Phylum: Magnoliophyta - Class: Liliopsida - Order: Orchidales - Family: Orchidaceae
This orchid is often simply referred to as Ophrys candica. It has a large, square undivided lip and its main distinguishing feature is the speculum which has a marbled appearance and is often predominantly white.
The plant grows up to 40cm in height and each inflorescence carries 2 - 7 large flowers (exceptionally up to nine flowers have been reported)
This orchid is known to occur in Italy, in the Aegean, and in Crete. In Italy it is thought to hybridise with Ophrys apulica, sometimes forming large hybrid swarms. Hybridisation makes accurate identification difficult and, therefore, the full extent of its territory.
The White Ophrys is not too particular about its habitat, growing on both alkaline and acidic substrates. It also tolerates moist or dry conditions and grows successfully in both mid-shade or open sunny positions.
Ophrys candica flowers in April and May.
The plants pictured on this page were photographed in Crete in early April.
The genus name Ophrys comes from Greek and means 'eyebrow' - a reference to the hairy fringe of the lip of the flower of many orchids in this genus. The specific epithet candica refers to Candia, an ancient name for the city of Iraklion, on the island of Crete where this orchid was first recorded.
The Plant List
Henrik AErenlund Pedersen & Niels Faurholdt (2007) Ophrys - The Bee Orchids of Europe; Kew
Pierre Delforge (2005) Orchids of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East; A&C Black
Fielding, Turland and Mathew (2005) Flowers of Crete; Kew
If you found this information helpful, we are sure you would also like books on the Wild Orchids of Wales, of The Burren, and of the Algarve. Author-signed copies are available here...