Ophrys sphegodes subsp. spruneri - Grecian Spider Orchid

Phylum: Magnoliophyta - Class: Liliopsida - Order: Orchidales - Family: Orchidaceae

Grecian Spider Orchid

Picture by kind permission of Anne Horsfall


This subspecies of the Early Spider Orchid (Ophrys sphegodes) is characterised by a deeply divided lip that forms three lobes, the central one being the largest. The lip is black and velvety and the speculum is H-shaped and sometimes grey or intense blue in colour. The sepals vary in colour and can be green, pink or sometimes so dark that they are almost purple.


This orchid occurs in southern Greece, Crete and the Aegean islands only. The specimen shown on this page was photographed in Crete.


Ophrys sphegodes subsp. spruneri grows in open impoverished grasslands on calcareous substrates

Flowering times

The Grecian Spider Orchid flowers from the middle of February until the beginning of April.


The genus name Ophrys comes from Greek and means 'eyebrow' - a reference to the hairy fringe of the lip of the flower of many orchids in this genus. The specific epithet sphegodes comes from ancient Greek seems to suggest a wasp-like appearance of the flowers of this orchid, while the subspecies name spruneri honours the German botanist Wilhelm von Spruner (1805 - 1874).

Reference sources

The Plant List

Henrik AErenlund Pedersen & Niels Faurholdt (2007) Ophrys - The Bee Orchids of Europe; Kew

Pierre Delforge (2005) Orchids of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East; A&C Black

Fielding, Turland and Mathew (2005) Flowers of Crete; Kew

If you found this information helpful, we are sure you would also like books on the Wild Orchids of Wales, of The Burren, and of the Algarve. Author-signed copies are available here...

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