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Ophrys insectifera


Habit of an individual of Ophrys insectifera at the Altendorfer Berg in Niedersachsen, Germay

Ophrys insectifera, the fly orchid, is a species of orchid and the type species of the genus Ophrys. It is remarkable as an example of sexually-deceptive pollination and floral mimicry as well as of a highly-selective and highly evolved plant-pollinator relationship.<ref>Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences - The Evolution of Imperfect Floral Mimicry</ref>


Ophrys insectifera is a tuberous perennial, reaching Template:Cvt in height, which flowers across its range from May to July.<ref name="bsbi.org">BSBI Species Account - Ophrys insectifera</ref> It is a slender plant, with narrow upright leaves. A flower spike may carry 1-10 flowers, which have yellow-green sepals, very reduced, dark brown/black petals resembling the antennae of an insect and a long, narrow, lobed labellum, which is dark in colour, varying from maroon to black and on which there are two shining 'pseudoeyes' as well as an iridescent blue/grey patch evolved to resemble an insect's glistening wings.<ref name="bsbi.org"/> Chromosomes 2n=36


The genus name "Ophrys" derives from the Greek word "ophrys", meaning eyebrow, while the Latin epithet "insectifera" means insect-bearing or insect-carrying, referring to the unusual appearance of the flowers.<ref>Les Orchidees Sauvages</ref>

Distribution and habitat

It is native to Europe,<ref name=kew/><ref>Template:Cite web – interpretation of codes</ref> favouring sites with damp, alkaline, unimproved soil. It can be found growing above limestone or sandstone substrate, in beech woodlands, on forest edges, in scrub, on limestone pavement, limestone grassland, in chalk pits and wet meadows as well as on disused railways.<ref>BSBI Species Account - Ophrys apifera</ref>


The name arises because its inflorescence resembles a fly, although it is dependent on Hymenoptera for pollination. In the UK O. insectifera is pollinated by just two species of digger wasp: Argogorytes mystaceus and Argogorytes fargeii.<ref name="bsbi.org"/> The plants use scent to attract male wasps which pollinate the flowers as they attempt to mate with them. The scent released by the flowers mimic female sexual pheromones.<ref>Template:Cite journal</ref>

Both the insect species which pollinate fly orchids are observed to feed on Umbellifer flowers as adults and froghopper nymphs as larvae.<ref>Nature Spot - Argogorytes mystaceus</ref><ref>Bees, Wasps and Ants Recording Society - Argogorytes fargeii</ref> A. mystaceus reproduces in woodland glades, while A. fargeii reproduces in open, sparsely vegetated habitats.<ref>Bees, Wasps and Ants Recording Society</ref>

Ophrys insectifera depends upon a relationship with a mycorrhizal fungus in the soil around its roots. In experiments it has been found to grow in association with fungi in the Tulasnellaceae family.<ref>Functional Ecology - Stable isotope signatures of underground seedlings reveal the organic matter gained by adult orchids from mycorrhizal fungi</ref> Due to the importance of this mycorrhizal partnership, orchids are particularly vulnerable to fungicide, but also other chemicals which could impact the growth of soil fungi or cause different fungi/bacteria species to dominate the soil they grow in.<ref>Pacific Northwest Pest Management Handbooks - Mycorrhiza</ref>

See also



External links

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