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This species is accepted, and its native range is W. & S. Europe to N. Iran.
Ophrys sphegodes


From southern England across central and southern Europe and the Levant to the Caucasus and northern Iran. [Aeg, Alb, Aus, Bal, Bel, Bul, Cor, Cre, Cze, Eng, Fra, Ger, Gre, Hun, Lux, Ita, Mal, Por, Rum, Rus, Sar, Sic, Spa, Swi, Tur, Ukr, Yug; Ana, Cyp, Isr]


Dry to moist soil in full sunlight to light shade, from sea level to 1400 m altitude. Typical habitats include garrigue, roadside slopes, open woods, grassland and pesticide-free olive groves on calcareous as well as slightly acid ground.

General Description

Plant slender, (10-)15-60(-70) cm tall with 2-12(-18) flowers in a lax to dense spike. Sepals pale green to yellowish green, (olive-)green, white or purplish violet (the lateral ones sometimes distinctly bicoloured with the mid-vein constituting a boundary), now and then suffused with violet to purplish brown, ovate to elliptic or (ob)lanceolate-oblong, 7-19 × (2-)3-9 mm; dorsal sepal nearly flat (less often shallowly boat-shaped), more or less incurved, from the base reflexed. Petals (ochre-)yellow to olive-green or pale green (often suffused with red to brown) or bright purplish violet to ruby, linear-lanceolate to oblong or (ovate-)triangular with flat to strongly wavy margins, 4-13 × 1.5-7 mm, glabrous to pubescent, recurved to spreading. Lip with (blackish, reddish or purplish) brown ground colour and often a light brown to yellow or yellowish green, less frequently reddish brown margin, straight, nearly flat or with more or less recurved sides, entire or slightly to moderately (rarely deeply) three-lobed close to the middle, 5-18(-20) × 7-18 mm, (sub)glabrous to strongly shaggy along the margin (often more hairy towards the base), otherwise (sub)glabrous; bulges weakly developed to obliquely conical (sometimes absent), distinctly isolated from the margin of the lip (side lobes flat, if present); front edge obtuse to emarginate, usually provided with a short, porrect to downward directed, triangular point; mirror distinct absent in subsp. helenae, most frequently consisting of an H-shaped figure or another simple figure derived from this, sometimes considerably more complicated and/or marbled, distinctly connected to the base of the lip, dull greyish blue to violet (rarely reddish brown), sometimes with a pale border. Column acute (to obtuse); not tapering towards the base (in side view); stigmatic cavity approximately as wide as long and approximately twice as wide as the anther, with dark or pale, lateral, eye-like knobs at base.

Native to:

Albania, Austria, Baleares, Belgium, Bulgaria, Corse, Cyprus, Czechoslovakia, East Aegean Is., France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Kriti, Krym, Lebanon-Syria, North Caucasus, Palestine, Portugal, Romania, Sardegna, Sicilia, Spain, Switzerland, Transcaucasus, Turkey, Turkey-in-Europe, Turkmenistan, Yugoslavia

Ophrys sphegodes Mill. appears in other Kew resources:

Date Reference Identified As Barcode Type Status
Maude, A.H., France 182.000
Jannings, E.M., United Kingdom 183.000
Watson, J.M. [27], Turkey 184.000
United Kingdom 185.000
Atkinson, R., United Kingdom 20401.000
Allison, J.M., United Kingdom 20406.000
Summerhayes, V.S., United Kingdom 20761.000
Goulimy, C.N., Greece 20786.000
Jones, E., United Kingdom 23201.000
Chesterman, D.D. [253], France 29047.447
Gilmour, J. 33768.000
Worsdell, W.C., United Kingdom 34473.000
Norman, T. [4], Turkey 37047.000
Wood, J.J. [306], Italy 39423.000
Wood, J.J. [252], Greece 39446.000
Wood, J.J. [303], Italy 39475.000
Wood, J.J. [342], Italy 39483.000
Wood, J.J. [332], Italy 39542.000
Wood, J.J. [341], Italy 39543.000
Wood, J.J. [333], Italy 39545.000
Wood, J.J. [329], Italy 39624.000
Chesterman, D.D. [254], France 40699.000
Chesterman, D.D. [155], Italy 40928.000
Collins, P.B. [75/003], Italy 41298.000
Chesterman, D.D. [233], Italy 44318.000
Chesterman, D.D. [227], Italy 44319.000
Chesterman, D.D. [237], Italy 44323.000
Joseph, J. [259], Spain 48804.000
Joseph, J. [379], Spain 48809.000
Farrell, L. [s.n.], United Kingdom 56304.000
Messel, Italy 5820.000
Bennett, W.F., United Kingdom 5824.000
United Kingdom 5825.000
Atkinson, R., United Kingdom 5830.000
Butcher, D. [46], France 76429.000
Pennington, T. [s.n.], France 77519.000

First published in Gard. Dict. ed. 8: n.° 8 (1768)

Accepted by

  • Castroviejo, S. & al. (eds.) (2005). Flora Iberica 21: 1-366. Real Jardín Botánico, CSIC, Madrid.
  • Devillers-Terschuren, J., Delforge, P. & Devillers, P. (2006). Ophrys sphegodes Miller 1768, nom correct, et Ophrys aranifera Hudson 1778, synonyme postérieur, s'appliquent bien à la même espèce Naturalistes Belges; Bulletin Mensuel 87: 85-120.
  • Dimopoulos, P., Raus, T., Bergmeier, E., Constantinidis, T., Iatrou, G., Kokkini, S., Strid, A., & Tzanoudakis, D. (2013). Vascular plants of Greece. An annotated checklist: 1-372. Botanic gardens and botanical museum Berlin-Dahlem, Berlin and Hellenic botanical society, Athens.
  • Dobignard, D. & Chatelain, C. (2010). Index synonymique de la flore d'Afrique du nord 1: 1-455. Éditions des conservatoire et jardin botaniques, Genève.
  • Faurholdt, N. & Pedersen, H.Æ. (2009). Flueblomster fra Marokko til Mellemøsten: 1-122. Dansk Orchide Klub og forfatterne.
  • G.I.R.O.S. (2009). Orchidee d'Italia: 1-303. Il Castello srl, Italy.
  • Galán Cela, P. & Gamarra, R. (2003). Check List of the Iberian and Balearic Orchids 2 Anales del Jardin Botanico de Madrid 60: 309-329.
  • Govaerts, R. (2003). World Checklist of Monocotyledons Database in ACCESS: 1-71827. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  • Kühn, R., Pedersen, H.Æ. & Cribb, v (2019). Field Guide to the Orchids of Europe and the Mediterranean: 1-430. Kew Publishing, England.
  • Pedersen, H.Æ. & Faurholdt, N. (2007). Ophrys. The Bee Orchids of Europe: 1-297. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Herbarium Catalogue Specimens

Kew Backbone Distributions
The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2021. Published on the Internet at and
© Copyright 2017 World Checklist of Selected Plant Families.

Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone
The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2021. Published on the Internet at and
© Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families.

Kew Science Photographs
Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew

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