ophrys bombyliflora

ophrys bombyliflora
This tiny Ophrys belongs to the O. tenthredenifera group, but unusually within that grouping, is somewhat drab and inconspicuous. It was first described by Link from the Algarve, Portugal in 1800 and its name literally means "bee flower", its common name being the Bumble Bee Orchid. In Greece it's commonly known as "arkoudaki" which translates to "little bear". This seems an appropriate name for an orchid that really can resemble a tiny teddy bear when viewed in close up. O. bombyliflora is not a particularly variable orchid This is a widespread species that can be found throughout most of the Mediterranean from France (where it's a rarity) to Anatolia and has also been reported from the Canary Islands. It can occur in huge colonies and this is due in no small part to its ability to reproduce vegetatively. Unusually amongst Ophrys, it produces tubers at the end of a stalk, forming as many as six in a growing season and these eventually create a tangled underground mass of roots and bulbs. O. bombyliflora prefers alkaline substrates but otherwise tolerates a range of habitat conditions from arid to damp and full sun to heavy shade where it will usually be found in flower from mid March through to May.

This ability to bulk up makes it an excellent alpine house plant for the show enthusiast as it will rapidly produce a good sized colony.

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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