Early spring Orchids in the hills of Andalusia

Here are some photos of the orchids we discovered on our 12-day sojourn in Northern Andalusia with Kath and Mick from the UK in late March 2024. 

Sawfly orchid, Ophrys tenthredenifera

Sawfly orchids were widespread and in their prime. Ophrys ficalhoana seems to be the name to use nowadays. The recent rains in Andalusia were a godsend for this and other species of orchid …

Yellow Bee Orchid, Ophrys lutea

We only encountered the Yellow Bee Orchid, Ophrys lutea, at one location, but, as usual with this species, when you find one you find a whole lot more!

Sombre Bee Orchid, Ophrys fusca

We only found the Sombre Bee Orchid, or Dull Ophrys, at one location, which is quite surprising. Were we too early, or too late?

I find the Ophrys orchids fascinating. They have evolved flowers to look like certain female insects to entice males to mate with them. Of course, the males do not get the sexual encounter they were betting on, but they go away with some of the plant’s pollen. This is called Pouyannian mimicry. Although visual, the key stimuli are often chemical and tactile. What follows is from Wikipedia …

Floral odors have been identified as the most prominent way of attracting pollinators, because these odors imitate the sex pheromones of females of the pollinator species. Male pollinators then track these scents over long distances. The proportions of such odor compounds have been found to be varied in different populations of orchids (in a variety of locations), playing a crucial role in attracting specific pollinators at the population level. The evolution of these interactions between plants and pollinators involve natural selection favoring local adaptation, leading to a more precise imitation of the scents produced by local pollinators.

Naked Man Orchid, Orchis italica

Naked Man Orchids were at their peak. Beautiful!

Pink Butterfly Orchid, Anacamptis papilionacea

Pink Butterfly Orchids were springing up all over the place!

Champagen Orchid, Orchis champaneuxii

Champagne Orchids. You know how it goes: you get all excited about seeing the first one, you rever it, take photos, and get all honeyed up thinking about it. Then you find another one, then a little clump, then a large cluster, then you start seeing them in so many places …

Conical Orchid, Orchis conica

The Conical Orchid was one of the most discreet of the orchids we saw and we only found it at a single site. It was a new species for Kath, so that in itself means it was a good find.

Mirror Orchid, Ophrys speculum

I remember when I found my first Mirror Orchid on the edge of the Utxesa reservoir in Lleida many years ago. I was so thrilled. Then, not long after that I went to the southern tip of Mallorca and was amazed to find dozens and dozens of Mirror Orchids growing in a little rough patch by the sea. When I see this species now I try to recall those feelings.

Narrow-leaved Helleborine, Cephalanthera longifolia

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