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Ophrys aesculapii

Ophrys aesculapii
This is surely one of Greece's most handsome Ophrys, which although rare and very limited in range, can be numerous in it's favoured stations. One such station is Mount Hymettus (Imitos) to the north of Athens and this has long been a place of pilgrimage for those botanists wishing to maximise their chances of finding this elegant, distant relative of the early spider orchid. O. aesculapii is a member of the O. mammosa group. It is a highly distinctive orchid and unlikely to be confused with any other species, except where it has been introgressed by close contact with other Ophrys. Its an endemic whose range is entirely within continental Greece, largely to the north of the Corinth canal but also in the north eastern Peloponnese and through Attica to Euobea. Habitat requirements seem to be undemanding and it prospers in both full sun and comparatively heavy shade.

Like all the Mediterranean ophrys it should be grown in an alpine house or under some form of protection so that watering can be controlled throughout the winter. The tuber can be grown in a relatively small pot as the tuber is not large and the roots do not spread far. If grown in a terracotta pot it should be plunged into sand and the sand kept damp thoughout the growing season. This ophrys will flower in the late winter.

Plants are normally sent out potted with full growing instructions to customers in the UK. They can normally be sent during the period AUGUST to NOVEMBER after which time growth is such that the rosette may get damaged.

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