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Ophrys araignée in French
Spider Orchid in English
The genus Ophrys is a large group of orchids from the alliance Orchis in the subtribe Orchidinae. There are many natural hybrids.
They are referred to as the "Bee orchids" because of the flowers of some species resemble the furry bodies of Bumble Bees and other insects. Their scientific name is derived from the Greek word "ophrys", meaning "eyebrow", referring to the furry edges of the lips of several species.
They are terrestrial or ground orchids from central to South Europe, North Africa, Asia Minor, up to the Caucasus Mountains, but mostly around the Mediterranean. They are considered the most important group of European terrestrial orchids.
During summer all Ophrys orchids are dormant as an underground bulbous tuber, which serves as a food reserve. In late summer/autumn they develop a rosette of leaves. Also a new tuber starts to grow and matures until the following spring; the old tuber slowly dies. The next spring the flowering stem starts to grow. During flowering the leaves already start to wither.
Most Ophrys orchids are dependent on symbiotic fungi. Because of this, some species only develop small alternate leaves. They cannot be transplanted due to this symbiosis. The shiny, basal leaves have a green or bluish color.
The flowers surpass all other European orchids. Two to twelve flowers grow on an erect stem with basal leaves. They are absolutely unique not only because of their unequaled beauty, color range and exceptional forms, but also because of the ingenuity by which they attract insects. Their lip mimics several insects, such as that of a bee, a wasp, or a beetle, attracting and duping the right pollinator. This visual cue serves as a close-range attractant. This pollination mimicry is enhanced by producing the scent of the receptive female insect. This is the long-range attractant. These insect pheromones cause them to approach and investigate the flowers more closely. This all happens in a period that only males are active and females haven't appeared yet.
Every Ophrys orchid has its own pollinator insect and is completely dependent on this species for its survival. Furthermore, duped males are not likely to return. They even ignore other plants of the same species. Therefore, only about 10% of an Ophrys population gets pollinated. This is enough to preserve the population, since each Ophrys orchid produces about 12,000 minute seeds.
Hope you like it.
Nephrotome2, goutham_ramesh, SkyF, fiyo, peter_stoeckl has marked this note useful
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Very nice, and clear portrait. Thanks, Ori
Hello, great colors, Bg, PoV, details TFS Kyle
Nice to see this photo, good colors and composition
- [2006-05-12 19:19]
very nice shot, the POV is nice, DOF and neutral background lets the wonderful flower stand out of the background. Very well done.
- [2006-05-13 3:41]
Very good macro,
Great colours, good details and composition
delightful image of the Spider Orchid with its amazingly complex details and very subtle colours.
Very well informing notes - interesting to read your text on the low rate of pollination. Since years I have been visiting a location near Vienna with the similar Ophris apifera growing in May. But I never was lucky enough to actually see a duped insect trying to copulate as descibed in literature. I always had the impression of me and my friends being the only animals attracted by those fascinating blossoms.
Thank you for this interesting and beautiful contribution.