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
rarityZrare
 

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.


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).

Hybridises 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 called then, or Channel Tunnel if you must. Rarely also on coastal shingle. It is Nationally scarce, and has 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]