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Eleonore's Ophrys

Ophrys eleonorae  J.& P. Devillers-Terschuren  (Fam: ORCHIDACEAE.)

Published date of profile: Mar-2006.
Citation: Mifsud S., (Mar-2006) Ophrys eleonorae on MaltaWildPlants.com

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Nomenclature

Species name :

Ophrys eleonorae  J.& P. Devillers-Terschuren

Name Derivation :

Jean Devillers-Terschuren, Belgium, 19xx - ;
Pierre Devillers, Belgium, 19xx -

Synonyms :

Basionym or principal synonyms: Ophrys iricolor subsp. maxima
Full list of synonyms: [ PlantList ]   [ IPNI ]   [ Catalogue of Life ]

Plant Family :

Orchidaceae  Juss.
(Orchid Family)

Common name(s) :

Eleonore's Ophrys, Ophrys of Eleonore

Maltese name(s) :

Dubbiena

Status for Malta :

Indigenous. Originating from the Maltese islands before man

Name Derivation:

Ophrys = "Eyebrow", referring to the furry edges of the lips of several species. (Greek);
eleonorae = Spp__ (Latin)

Remarks :

-


Morphology and structure

PLANT STRUCTURE:

Character

Growth Form

Branching

Surface

Description

Erect but without a true aerial stem :

Erect flower stalk(s) and leaves grow directly from the true underground stem such as rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs.

Single, unbranched scape :

Plant forms a single, leafless, robust, unbranched flowering stalk (=scape) which is often found growing from underground tubers, rhizomes, bulbs or corms.

Hirsute :

Covered with rough, coarse hairs.

General
Picture

Wild Plants of the Mediterranean Islands of Malta  - Copyright Stephen Mifsud / Maltawildplants.com / Malta (2002-2010) Wild Plants of the Mediterranean Islands of Malta  - Copyright Stephen Mifsud / Maltawildplants.com / Malta (2002-2010) Wild Plants of the Mediterranean Islands of Malta  - Copyright Stephen Mifsud / Maltawildplants.com / Malta (2002-2010)

LEAVES:

Character

Arrangement

Attachment

Venation

Description

Basal Rosette :

A cluster of leaves in a circular arrangement at the base of the plant. Upper leaves are more erect and wrap around the flowering stalk as a sheath.

Sessile from an underground stem :

Growing directly from an underground stem (bulb, rhizome, tuber, etc.) without a stalk.

Parallel venation :

Veins running from the base parallel to the leaf longitudinal axis.

General
Picture

Wild Plants of the Mediterranean Islands of Malta  - Copyright Stephen Mifsud / Maltawildplants.com / Malta (2002-2010) Wild Plants of the Mediterranean Islands of Malta  - Copyright Stephen Mifsud / Maltawildplants.com / Malta (2002-2010) Wild Plants of the Mediterranean Islands of Malta  - Copyright Stephen Mifsud / Maltawildplants.com / Malta (2002-2010)
 

Character

Leaf Shape

Leaf Margin

Remarks

Description

Lanceolate :

Lance shaped, widest in the basal third, tapering gradually towards the tip.

Entire :

Smooth margin without indentations, lobes or any projections.

General
Picture

Wild Plants of the Mediterranean Islands of Malta  - Copyright Stephen Mifsud / Maltawildplants.com / Malta (2002-2010) Wild Plants of the Mediterranean Islands of Malta  - Copyright Stephen Mifsud / Maltawildplants.com / Malta (2002-2010) Wild Plants of the Mediterranean Islands of Malta  - Copyright Stephen Mifsud / Maltawildplants.com / Malta (2002-2010)

FLOWERS:

Character

Colour

Basic Flower Type

No. of Petals

No. of Sepals

Description

Dark Brown and Violet-Blue

Orchidaceous :

Orchid-like flower, generally consisting of 3 sepals (arranged as a T) and 3 petals (arranged as a Y) with the lower petal (the lip or labellum) being highly modified and conspicuous.

3

2 small and inconspicuous and 1 complex and colourful (labellum).

3

Identical, green and oval-lanceolate in shape.

General
Picture

  Wild Plants of the Mediterranean Islands of Malta  - Copyright Stephen Mifsud / Maltawildplants.com / Malta (2002-2010) Wild Plants of the Mediterranean Islands of Malta  - Copyright Stephen Mifsud / Maltawildplants.com / Malta (2002-2010) Wild Plants of the Mediterranean Islands of Malta  - Copyright Stephen Mifsud / Maltawildplants.com / Malta (2002-2010)
 

Character

Inflorescence

Description

Ovary

Stamens

Description

Spike :

Unbranched, elongated, indeterminate inflorescence with sessile flowers.

Flower consists of 3 identical leaf-like outer segments (= sepals) and 3 inner segments (= petals) of which 2 are small and green and the other is a modified lip-shaped petal called labellum. The labellum colour is dark brown with a blue-violet maculum (patch), and has 3 distinct lobes. The underside of the labellum has a reddish coloration at the centre. Alike the other Ophrys species of the Ophrys iricolor group, the sides of the labellum near the mouth entry have 2 elevated ridges.

Inferior :

Ovary situated below the flower parts (the calyx, corolla, and androecium). In other words, these are attached above the ovary.

Pollinia x 2 :

Ovary situated below the flower parts (the calyx, corolla, and androecium). In other words, these are attached above the ovary.

General
Picture

Wild Plants of the Mediterranean Islands of Malta  - Copyright Stephen Mifsud / Maltawildplants.com / Malta (2002-2010) Wild Plants of the Mediterranean Islands of Malta  - Copyright Stephen Mifsud / Maltawildplants.com / Malta (2002-2010) Wild Plants of the Mediterranean Islands of Malta  - Copyright Stephen Mifsud / Maltawildplants.com / Malta (2002-2010) Wild Plants of the Mediterranean Islands of Malta  - Copyright Stephen Mifsud / Maltawildplants.com / Malta (2002-2010)
 

Character

Scent

Average Flower Size

Pollen Colour

Other Notes

Description

None or very faint

Emits an odour resembling an insect pheromone (sex hormone), for attracting the specific pollinator.

12mm x 25mm x 20mm

(Length x Breadth x Depth including sepals). The Labellum is 17mm to 22mm long.

Yellow

-


SEEDS:

Character

No. Per Fruit

Shape

Size

Colour

Description

> 2,000

Despite the large amounts, propagation by seeds is not much viable for Orchids .

Powder form

(very small to have a distinct shape ).

Extremely small

(powder form).

Beige

General
Picture

Wild Plants of the Mediterranean Islands of Malta  - Copyright Stephen Mifsud / Maltawildplants.com / Malta (2002-2010) Wild Plants of the Mediterranean Islands of Malta  - Copyright Stephen Mifsud / Maltawildplants.com / Malta (2002-2010) Wild Plants of the Mediterranean Islands of Malta  - Copyright Stephen Mifsud / Maltawildplants.com / Malta (2002-2010) Wild Plants of the Mediterranean Islands of Malta  - Copyright Stephen Mifsud / Maltawildplants.com / Malta (2002-2010)

FRUIT AND OTHER BOTANICAL DATA:

Character

Fruit Type

Colour of Fruit

Subterranean Parts

Other Notes

Description

Indehiscent Poricidal Capsule :

A non-splitting fruit capsule which usually stores a large number of tiny seeds which escape through small pores or slits in the walls of the fruit.

Green

(turns light brown when ripe.).

Twin Tubers :

Plant have a pair of ellipsoid, food-storing tubers that resembling testes.

Germination and Growth

The germination and growth of the plant is successful only with the presence of specific microrhizzial funghi in the soil.

General
Picture

Wild Plants of the Mediterranean Islands of Malta  - Copyright Stephen Mifsud / Maltawildplants.com / Malta (2002-2010) Wild Plants of the Mediterranean Islands of Malta  - Copyright Stephen Mifsud / Maltawildplants.com / Malta (2002-2010) Wild Plants of the Mediterranean Islands of Malta  - Copyright Stephen Mifsud / Maltawildplants.com / Malta (2002-2010) Wild Plants of the Mediterranean Islands of Malta  - Copyright Stephen Mifsud / Maltawildplants.com / Malta (2002-2010)

Plant description and characters

Life Cycle:

Perennial.

Growth Form:

GEOPHYTE (Bulbous/Rhizomatous plants)

Habitat:

Alkaline steppes, garigues, and sometimes pre-desert scrub.

Frequency:

Frequent

Localities in Malta:

Infrequent. Communities of a few specimens found at Dingli Cliffs, Hagar Qim area and Wied Gerzuma (Fomm ir-Rih).

Plant Height:

12-28cm.

Flowering Period:

Mar-Apr

Protection in Malta:

Protected by law: schedule VI of legal notice LN311/2006. (strictly protected species)

Red List 1989:

Not listed in the Red Data Book of the Maltese Islands

Poison:

Unlikely to be poisonous.

This plant is similar in morphology to Ophrys fusca and its full description can be read by [clicking here...] The main differences which distinguish this plant from the other closely related species of Ophrys fusca are the following:

1) The flower has distinctive elevated ridges at the edges of the inner end of the labellum, that is at the mouth of the flower.



2) The length of the labellum measures between 17-22mm.

3) The plant flowers between March and April in Malta.

4) The underside of the lip have a distinctive, central, red coloration which does not reach the edges. The edge is often bright green.

5) The bright pale blue maculum is relatively long, just or nearly reaching the zone where the lateral lobes starts (known as the sinuses)

6) The perimeter of the labellum is yellowish-green


Information, uses and other details


Nativity and distribution

According reference  [WWW-03] the Genus Ophrys is native to the Mediterranean region. [WWW-141] mentions Corfu, Capri and Sardinia as the places where this plant comes from.

Morphological features of Ophrys eleonorae

The most obvious and most constant character of Ophrys eleonorae is the restriction of the red zone to the central part of the underside of the lip, leaving a border, sometimes narrow but always very well delimited, between it and the edge of the lip. This character can be seen in Fig. 1 as well as on the flowers illustrated by G�lz & Reinhard (1990, plate 1, b), particularly the one that shows in the most extreme way the characters of O. iricolor. We have found this character in all the plants of O. eleonorae that we have examined. It is made all the more striking by the fact that the limit between red centre and green border is always very abrupt, without attenuation, and that the existence of the yellow-green border is manifested by the presence of a fine yellow line observable on the lip seen from above (Fig. 1; G�lz & Reinhard 1990, plate 1, c). This condition contrasts with that characteristic of O. iricolor, very well illustrated, for example, by Delforge (1994: 298), which combines an entirely red underside with a fine red line observable from above. [379]

G�lz & Reinhard (1990) analysed 43 quantitative characters of Sardinian populations of large-flowered Ophrys resembling O. iricolor, on the basis of 15 specimens, and showed a range of values situated between those characteristic of Aegean O. iricolor on the one hand, of French and Spanish populations of Ophrys fusca s.l., on the other. Although they find an intermediate swarm between the two entities, their statistical results (their Table 3), well illustrated by their Figs. 3 and 4 show a variability of the sample that is, for most of the characters, not greater than that of O. iricolor, and does not seem to be accompanied by bimodality, so that it is possible that a large part of their "hybrids" represent the interval of variability of O. eleonorae. It is clear, however, that true hybrids do exist between O. eleonorae and one or another taxon of the O. fusca or O. funerea complexes. We have seen several plants of this type and the illustration offered by Paulus & Gack (1995: plate 1, E, plant in the middle) is clearly correct, as shown by the proportions of the lip and the reduction of the basal structures. [379]

Ophrys eleonorae was first included in O. iricolor, often within a wide concept, which clearly encompassed O. fusca s.s. or some of its allies (Danesch & Danesch 1969; Sundermann 1980; Kohlhaupt 1981; Pignatti 1982; Davies et al. 1983). Later, it became habitual to exclude Sardinia from the range of O. iricolor, while the latter was more narrowly defined (Baumann & K�nkele 1982, 1988; Kurze & Kurze 1984; Delforge & Tyteca 1984; Buttler 1986, 1991). The two approaches coincided at the beginning of the 90's. Scrugli (1990) and Liverani (1991) included O. iricolor in the Sardinian flora; Giotta & Piccitto (1990) recognized only O. fusca and G�lz & Reinhard (1990) described entirely hybrid populations which they merged in O. fusca. In 1991 we proposed (in Delforge et al. 1991) to treat the Sardinian entity as a species allied to O. iricolor but distinct, a treatment adopted by Delforge (1994) and explained in our synthesis of genus Ophrys (Devillers & Devillers-Terschuren 1994). Paulus & Gack (1995, 1999), while confirming the individuality of a Sardinian taxon, suggested to treat it at subspecific rank. [379]

Reports about Ophrys eleonorae in Malta.

In the report  [367], members of the 'Ophrys fusca complex' that are found on the Maltese islands are given after research by 4 botanists (G.Bartolo, S.Pulvirenti, E.Lanfranco, D .Stevens) in 2001. The following 5 species are given:

Ophrys fusca Link,
O. caesiella P. Delforge,
O. parosica, P. Delforge,
O. pectus Mutel,
O. mesaritica P. Delforge (Iricolor group)

At that time O. eleonoraea was not mentioned, probably placed with the similar O. mesaritica. N.B. Ophrys pectus is a hybrid of Ophrys bilunulata (A1: Ophrys iricolor complex group) x O. eleonorae (A2: Ophrys eleonorae complex group)  [WWW-142]

Finally, according to a Belgian botanist Delforge who dedicated much work on the Ophrys group and visited Malta during the end of February, indicated that the following species are found:

O. mesaritica P. Delforge
O. lupercalis J. Devillers-Terschuren & P. Devillers
O. pectus Mutel
O. fusca Link (possibly)
but during his stay in Malta, Delforge did not encounter O. eleonorae, O. vallesiana, or O. parosica.

Species of the Ophrys iricolor complex.

This complex or aggregate is made up of five species which are closely related to each other and previously they where referred to as Ophry iricolor s.l. or lumped with the Ophrys fusca s.l. The main charactaristic of this group is that of having an elevated ridge at the rim near the mouth / base of labellum. Some are quite narrow endemics. In Malta, there appears to be three species, O. mesaritica, O. eleanorae and O. vallesiana (?) [WWW-147]
  1. Ophrys eleonorae J. Devillers - Terschuren & P. Devillers
  2. Ophrys iricolor Desfontaines
  3. Ophrys lojaconoi P. Delforge
  4. Ophrys mesaritica P. Delforge
  5. Ophrys vallesiana J. Devillers - Terschuren & P. Devillers

Other information

Since this plant is very close to Ophrys fusca, additional information could be found in the profile of O. fusca. (Click here to read further information in the O. fucsca profile...)

Photo Gallery   (29 Images)

IMAGE: OPHEL-01
Photo of a typical Ophrys eleonorae flower. They often have a deep red lining between the bluish patch (maculum) and the maroon part.
IMAGE: OPHEL-02
Photo of the flower. One of the characteristics of the flowers of this species is the long macula (bluish patch) nearly reaching the length of the lateral lobes. This zone is also known as the sinus.
IMAGE: OPHEL-03
Photo of a flower with interesting red markings in the maculum. The shapes or markings in maculum are variable and do not characterise a particular species, hence they are not very important when it comes to identify any species of the Ophrys fusca-/iricolor- complex.
IMAGE: OPHEL-04
Photo of a flower which has its sides curved down and look rather narrow in this photo.
IMAGE: OPHEL-05
Close up photo of the flower. O. eleonorae belongs to the Ophrys iricolor complex group. This group is characterised by having elevated ridges at the sides of the labellum near the mouth entry - these are well observed in this photo.
IMAGE: OPHEL-06
Front view photo of the flower. Delforge, an expert about Mediterranean Orchids, mentions another important characteristic for O. eleonorae which is visible in this photo (notch of front lobe). The perimeter of the labellum of O. eleonorae has a yellow-green colour, whereas in a related species - O. iricolor - this is red.
IMAGE: OPHEL-07
Photo of the flower (top view) which have a rather pale maculum. This could be due the old age of the flower. Young flowers have more vivid colours.
IMAGE: OPHEL-08
Photo of a flower showing the curved down edges.
IMAGE: OPHEL-09
Photo of 3 flowers. The focused one shows the nice steel-blue and brown colours of the labellum. The flower on the left (lateral view) shows the elevated ridges near the mouth, while that on the right shows the reddish coloration on the underside of the lip.
IMAGE: OPHEL-10
Close up photo of the elegant flower.
IMAGE: OPHEL-11
Lateral view photo of the flower. Note the pilosity of the labellum (especially the maroon part) and the elevated ridge near the mouth of the flower (characteristic of O. iricolor group).
IMAGE: OPHEL-12
This photo demonstrates the most important morphological characteristic that distinguishes O. eleonorae from other closely related species. The underside of the lip has a red coloration that does not reach the edge. In fact there is a green border at the edge.
IMAGE: OPHEL-13
Photo of the underside part of the labellum demonstrating the incomplete red coloration and a green border at the perimeter. This is a very important distinguishable feature for O. eleonorae..
IMAGE: OPHEL-14
Another photo of the underside of the lip. Eleonore's Ophrys have this typical red zone that does not reach the edges of the labellum.
IMAGE: OPHEL-15
Close up photo of the mouth region and some tepals; the medial outer tepal which have a circular and concave shape, and 2 inner tepals (the upper ones) which are elongated and yellow-green in colour. Between the latter there is the stamen column.
IMAGE: OPHEL-16
Close up photo of the mouth region showing the detail of the stamen column and the 2 yellow pollinia wrapped by covering sheaths known as theca. (sing. = thecum).
IMAGE: OPHEL-17
Photo showing the structure of the tiny yellow pollinium (equivalent to a stamen) which has a coherent pollen sacs at one end, and a sticky base (=viscidium) at the other end.
IMAGE: OPHEL-18
Scanned image of the flower.
IMAGE: OPHEL-19
Scanned image of the flower. (lateral view).
IMAGE: OPHEL-20
Scanned and annotated image of flower with the labellum removed (for scanning purposes) showing the arrangement of the internal and external tepals (perianth segments), the stamen column and the sticky stigmatic cavity.
IMAGE: OPHEL-21
Scanned and annotated image of the reproductive organs of the flower.
IMAGE: OPHEL-22
Scanned image of the colourful labellum which measures between 17 and 22mm in length.
IMAGE: OPHEL-23
Scanned image of the underside face of the labellum showing the characteristic central red coloration of O. eleonorae.
IMAGE: OPHEL-24
Photo of 2 flowers. Flowers can last for about 7 days or more until they get visibly detiorated and have faded colours.
IMAGE: OPHEL-25
Photo of an inflorescence which is described as a spike. Flowers are sessile and connected to the main peduncle (flower stalk) directly by the green inferior ovary.
IMAGE: OPHEL-26
Photo of 3 plants near each other, most probably the largest plant being the parent of the smaller ones.
IMAGE: OPHEL-27
Photo of the plant which is much larger from the related species Ophrys mesaritica. The latter plant is shorter, have a smaller labellum length (about 11mm) and flowers much earlier (Dec-Feb).
IMAGE: OPHEL-28
Photo of plant taken at Qrendi on the 15th of March 2006.
     
IMAGE: OPHEL-29
Photo of the broad lanceolate leaves arranged as a basal rosette with the youngest ones found erect and sheathing the flowering stem.
IMAGE: OPHEL-30
IMAGE: OPHEL-31
IMAGE: OPHEL-32

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