FLY ORCHID

Ophrys insectifera

(Formerly: ophrys muscifera)
Orchid Family [Orchidaceae]

month8may month8jun month8june

status
statusZnative
flower
flower8bicolour
flower
flower8green
flower
flower8brown flower8beetroot
inner
inner8yellow
morph
morph8zygo
morph
morph8peloric
petals
petalsZ5
stem
stem8round
rarity
rarityZuncommon

9th June 2018, Waitby Greenriggs, Kirby Stephen, Yorks Dales. Photo: © RWD
An exceptionally tall specimen possibly up to 40cm with 6 flowers and a potentially un-opened flower at the top.


9th June 2018, Waitby Greenriggs, Kirby Stephen, Yorks Dales. Photo: © RWD
On a disused railway embankment.


late May 2004, County Clare, Ireland. Photo: © Phil And Ann Farrer
Spindly stem up to 2 feet tall. Basal leaves are, broad, lanceolate and shiny on upper surface, three to four in number per plant. Apart from the flower itself, the whole plant is light-green.


late May 2004, County Clare, Ireland. Photo: © Phil And Ann Farrer
Between 10 to 20 well-spaced dark-brown to beetroot coloured flowers on short slightly-bulging stalks, all it facing different directions.


9th May 2012, near Gourdon, Lot region of France Photo: © Kelly Finney
The dorsal petals are short, extremely narrow and look like the two short antennae of a Fly.


9th May 2010, near Gourdon, Lot region of France Photo: © Kelly Finney
The flowers point slightly downwards on drooping 'stalks', being the ovaries. Showing the three green sepals behind the flower. Not all flowers have had either the energy or the time to point in the same direction.


2nd May 2009, Lot Valley, France. Photo: © Hester Coley
The two wire-like upwardly-directed dorsal petals (which look like insect antennae) are brown and velvety. The flower has evolved to imitate digger wasps, which attracts real male digger wasps to attempt copulation with it thereby pollinating it.


9th June 2018, Waitby Greenriggs, Kirby Stephen, Yorks Dales. Photo: © RWD
Flowers have three light-green sepals each set at 90° to each other and an insect shaped petal with a skirt-like lower lobe, split into two stubby legs, two short drooping arms, and a small head with long linear ears or 'antennae' and a bobble-cap. The top of the flower is very shiny, especially the middle iridescent-blue section.


9th June 2018, Waitby Greenriggs, Kirby Stephen, Yorks Dales. Photo: © RWD
Two small yellow forward-projecting 'eyes' slightly protrude. The body is bent into a slight Z-bend, the middle ('body') section of which, otherwise known as the speculum, is iridescent blue (this is not a reflection of the sky from the 'petal' as it may look like).


9th June 2018, Waitby Greenriggs, Kirby Stephen, Yorks Dales. Photo: © RWD
Covered in short, brown velvety hairs.


9th June 2018, Waitby Greenriggs, Kirby Stephen, Yorks Dales. Photo: © RWD
The sexual organs are at the top.


9th June 2018, Waitby Greenriggs, Kirby Stephen, Yorks Dales. Photo: © RWD
The ovary forms the flower 'stalk' holding up the flower. A thin bract grows just below the ovary. An as-yet unopened flower at the top.


9th June 2018, Waitby Greenriggs, Kirby Stephen, Yorks Dales. Photo: © RWD
If the flower is not facing the same way as all the other flowers, the ovary bends around the stem in order that it does


9th June 2018, Waitby Greenriggs, Kirby Stephen, Yorks Dales. Photo: © RWD
The rear of the flower is surprisingly hollow.


9th June 2018, Waitby Greenriggs, Kirby Stephen, Yorks Dales. Photo: © RWD
Two basal lanceolate, inwardly-curved leaves peel off from encircling the stem near ground level.


Hybridizes with : Bee Orchid (Ophrys apifera) to form Ophrys × albertiana

Some similarities to : Bee Orchid but that has yellow and purple markings on a much more bulbous brown 'body' and to Early Spider-Orchid which has much shorter sepals in relation to the size of the 'spider' which is bulbous, as spiders are. Late Spider-Orchid has mauve-coloured sepals and a different shaped 'body', as does Bertoli's Mirror Orchid.

Uniquely identifiable characteristics

Distinguishing Feature :

No relation to : Fly Honeysuckle [a plant with similar name].

Var. ochroleuca is a distinct variety with differing shape and colour where the sepals are a greyish-green, and the main part of the flower pale green apart from a white 'head' (speculum). This form has a longer and narrower 'body'.

Habitat: Grows at the edges of woods, on grassy places, on scrub and on fens, mainly alkaline soils, and is absent North of Sunderland. Present day populations exist in Anglesey and in the Thames valley catchment area and North Downs.

Nominally shaped like a 'fly' it secretes sex pheromones which attract the male Digger Wasp, which as they attempt to copulate with the flower get their heads covered in pollinia. Other visited Fly Orchids are thus pollinated by so contaminated wasps. The male Digger Wasps desist trying to mate with the Fly Orchid once the female Digger Wasps emerge two weeks later.

Peloric flowers with multiple lips are not un-common.


  Ophrys insectifera  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Orchidaceae  

Distribution
 family8Orchid family8Orchidaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Ophrys
Ophrys
(Bee Orchids)

FLY ORCHID

Ophrys insectifera

(Formerly: ophrys muscifera)
Orchid Family [Orchidaceae]

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