Starting into 2015 I received a nice mail from Mirjana and Nebojša Jeričević living on the Dalmatian island of Korčula. They sent me photos of albiflora forms of five species, Orchis quadripunctata (above), Anacamptis pyramidalis, Himantoglossum robertianum, Dactylorhiza romana and Orchis italica. Especially interesting are those of Dactylorhiza romana. Those plants show some light yellowish hue but are not as yellow as the common yellow form of this bi-coloured species. They are are growing among violet forms and it might be assumed that they are plants whose flowers should have been violet but lost the anthocyanins pigments.
With its deeply pink to purple colours in the sepals and petals and a deeply brown labellum, Ophrys bertolonii is one of the most intensely coloured Ophrys species. In Croatia, at the southern tip of Istria, Pavel Heger found a colour variety of Ophrys bertolonii – with an overall green appearance due to the remaining chlorophyll pigments. There are two characteristics which allow to address these plants as an “albiflora” form: 1) The typical marking at the lower end of the labellum is quite white. 2) The hairs at the edges of the labellum are white as well.
This rare plant demonstrates that “albiflora” forms of Ophrys species tend to retain chlorophyll – in contrast to the white flowering forms of Orchis or Anacamptis species. And there are distinct areas of the flower where chlorophyll is not retained as it is the case with the labellum marking of Ophrys bertolonii. Maybe these plants tend to be “white” in order to achieve a certain biological “albiflora” function – but the chlorophyll performance of the flower is still important and thus kept. Special thanks to Pavel for contributing to albiflora.eu!