left arrowball, from Animation City 1991   Orchids with History   right arrowball, from Animation City 1991 Ophrys mirabilis
Ophrys hayekii
Ophrys mirabilis, Sicily Ragusa 30.4.98
Ophrys mirabilis, Sicily, Province
of Ragusa 30.4.98

More images
The description of Ophrys mirabilis by the French botanists Philippe GENIEZ and Frédéric MELKI in L'Orchidophile 22 (98): 161-166 was a surprise in 1991, because a species closely related with the Western Mediterranean Ophrys dyris and the Eastern Mediterranean Ophrys omegaifera was unknown in Sicily up to this time. Before that there had been some rumors on the existence of such a species, but no proves. They described Ophrys mirabilis from a site in the Province of Caltanissetta, which contained only three stems. When I visited the locus classicus in 1998, I found five. The most remarkable characteristic of the bloom is that it has (almost) no notch at the base of the labellum. It is rather late in flower, end of April to middle of May. Ophrys mirabilis, Sicily Prov. Caltanissetta 28.4.98
Ophrys mirabilis, Sicily, Province
of Caltanissetta, Locus Classicus
To native botanists from Ragusa the species was already well-known from the site shown in the background image, which contains about 250 stems, but obviously they didn't pay much attention on it. After the orchid had been described as Ophrys mirabilis by GENIEZ an MELKI, they described their sight in a web page titled The True Story of Ophrys mirabilis (in Italian language).
In the meantime some more sites have been found in Sicily.
At the Djebel Bou Kornine in Tunisia a site of the same or very similar orchid has become well-known by HUMBERT in 1912, and several orchid enthusiasts visited it in the following years. FLEISCHMANN called the orchid Ophrys hayekii, the name is however invalid. HAYEK, according to whom the name was chosen, had also visited the site. In 1927 SOÓ wrote a valid description under the name Ophrys fusca subsp. hayekii. MAIRE and WEILLER re-combined it to Ophrys atlantica subsp. hayekii in 1954, SOÓ did the same in 1959 again. Dr Helmut BAUMANN saw the plants still in 1972. In his comprehensive article on the Fusci-Luteae section in Northern Africa in Die Orchidee 26 (1975): 132-139, from which also the historical details mentioned above are taken, he assumed the orchid to be the hybrid Ophrys atlantica x fusca. In the meantime it is said that the orchid has disappeared due to changes in usage of the site. In 2000 Pierre DELFORGE issued an article in Natural.belges 81 (Orchid.13): 93-110, to prove its identity with Ophrys mirabilis by comparison of the outlines of the pressed blooms.
Contents Background photos: Sicily, Province of Ragusa 30.4.98 10-Mar-2005
Copyright: Use of the images and texts only with author's written permission.