The members of the genus Ophrys are the "bee" orchids. They have no nectar and so have cunningly developed their flowers to resemble insects such as bees, flies or spiders feeding on a flower. When the attracted insect is on the flower, the pollen rubs across their back, to be carried away when they leave.
The patterns are variable and there are numerous subspecies and sub-subspecies; the one we photographed, for example, doesn't match exactly Ophrys apifera, or any of the scores of other similar ones in our reference books. It could likely be the Ophrys scolopax ssp. apiformis.
The Ophrys orchids have no medicinal use, and none are toxic.
Eyed Bee Orchid - Ophrys argolica
Mar-Apr; 15-35 cm, with 2-8 flowers; sepals pink, purple or sometimes white, narrow, with a green central stripe.
Bumblebee Orchid - Ophrys bombyliflora
Mar-May; 7-25 cm; sepals rounded and green, with a darker central stripe. The smallest and least-conspicuous orchid, with flowers under 20 mm across.
Horseshoe Orchid - Ophrys ferrum-equinum
Mar-May; 15-40 cm, with 2-5 flowers; sepals pink or purple, with a green central stripe.
Late Spider Orchid - Ophrys fuciflora
Apr-May; 15-50 cm; sepals pink or pinkish-white, with a green central stripe.
Sombre Bee Orchid - Ophrys fusca
Feb-May; 10-40 cm, with 3-10 flowers; sepals broad and greenish.
Yellow Bee Orchid - Ophrys lutea
Mar-May; 10-30 cm, with 2-7 flowers; 3 green sepals, one forming a hood; a yellow and brown lip.
Woodcock Orchid - Ophrys scolopax
Mar-May; 15-45 cm, with 3-12 flowers; sepals pink or purple, with a green central stripe.
Mirror Orchid - Ophrys speculum
Mar-May; 10-30 cm, with 2-10 flowers; sepals green and brownish-red.
Early Spider Orchid - Ophrys sphegodes
Mar-May; 10-45 cm, with 2-10 flowers; sepals green to reddish-green, with one sometimes arching over as a hood.
Sawfly Orchid - Ophrys tenthredinifera
Mar-May; 15-45 cm; sepals rounded, lilac pink or pale green, with a green central stripe.
Tall. Low - Med
Flower. 2-9 flowers; the sepals are usually pale pink, but sometimes white, and each has a green central stripe.
Leaves. Oval or lance-shaped basal leaves, with narrower leaves clasping the stem.
Habitat. Garrigue, maquis, woodland and scrub areas.