EARLY SPIDER-ORCHID

Ophrys sphegodes

(Formerly: Ophrys aranifera)
Orchid Family [Orchidaceae]

month8apr month8april month8may

status
statusZnative
 
flower
flower8bicolour
 
flower
flower8brown
 
flower
flower8green
 
inner
inner8brown
 
morph
morph8zygo
 
petals
petalsZ3 petalsZ6
(5)
stem
stem8round
 
rarity
rarityZscarce
 

June, Near Gourdon, Lot region of France Photo: © Kelly Finney
Similar to Bee Orchid but half the height at up to 20cm.


June, Near Gourdon, Lot region of France Photo: © Kelly Finney
With just 2 or 3 flowers on.


June, Near Gourdon, Lot region of France Photo: © Kelly Finney


June, Near Gourdon, Lot region of France Photo: © Kelly Finney
Three or four narrower stem leaves. The bluish 'clown with baggy trousers' motif is distinguishable here.


May 2014, Swanage. Photo: © Peter Andrews
With an irridescent milky-blue scarf around its neck.


June, Near Gourdon, Lot region of France Photo: © Kelly Finney
Flowers similar to those of Bee Orchid, but the bottom lip is wider and has a notch at the tip. Often with a bluish mark shaped like a clown wearing baggy trousers on the bottom lip where the lighter brown 'glaze' is on this specimen. There are two brown furry humps on the sides of the hypochile. The true petals (the two 'wings') are also yellow-green and not mauve, are brown-edged, and curve forwards towards the flower. The 'head' of the spider has a pouch each side glistening with nectar like a spiders eyes.


June, Near Gourdon, Lot region of France Photo: © Kelly Finney
Hanging on to one of the petals is the butterfly-like Libelloides coccajus, which is neither butterfly nor moth but an Ascalaphid, which are related to Ant-Lions. The black-net part of the wings are translucent.


5th April 2017, unknown place Photo: © Ann Collier
The paterns on the 'breast' can vary, sometimes they are so similar in colour that they are hard to see. And even on the same plant they can differ enormously - look at the fawn-coloured one just below!


5th April 2017, unknown place Photo: © Ann Collier
Here the shape of the markings is totally different to the others. But as long as the sepals are pale-green and not any other colour, then it is still an Early Spider-Orchid.


5th April 2017, unknown place Photo: © Ann Collier
The hairs around the 'breast' are brown.


5th April 2017, unknown place Photo: © Ann Collier
At certain angles the glossy markings on the 'breast' can appear dull; at other angles very shiny.


5th April 2017, unknown place Photo: © Ann Collier
Or even silvery at this angle (this is the same flower as immediately above). The very short hairs on the 'breast' are also catching the highlight in some parts of this image.


Easily mistaken for : Late Spider-Orchid, but that has three mauve rather than yellow-green sepals behind the flower (arranged at ±120°) and two much stubbier and mauve wings which are the true petals but more like truncated arms in-between the sepals rather than the flattish petals of Early Spider-Orchid.

Easily mis-identified as : Bee Orchid (see captions).

Hybridizes with : Fly Orchid (Ophrys insectifera) to produce Ophrys × hybrida which was only found in one hectad of the UK in the 1990's, and may now be extinct in the UK. It too has stubby arms rather than wings, and a 'Z' or chair-like profile similar to Fly Orchid.

No relation to : Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum) [a non-native indoor ornamental plant with similar name].

Although some or all the photographs above were taken in France, this Orchid does grow in the UK too.

Has three or four strongly-veined basal leaves and 2-3 narrower stem leaves clasping the stem.

Inhabits limestone grassland especially on chalk near the South Coast of England. Also on spoil from digging the 'Chunnel' as it was then called, or Channel Tunnel if you must. Rarely also on coastal shingle. It is Nationally scarce, and has at the time of writing a Schedule 8 W&C notification.


  Ophrys sphegodes  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Orchidaceae  

Distribution
 family8Orchid family8Orchidaceae
 BSBI maps
genus8Ophrys
Ophrys
(Bee Orchids)

EARLY SPIDER-ORCHID

Ophrys sphegodes

(Formerly: Ophrys aranifera)
Orchid Family [Orchidaceae]