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Maltese spider orchid – il-brimba s-sewda

Close-ups of Maltese nature plants around us

The Maltese spider orchid or il-brimba s-sewda in Maltese is frequently found in garigue, rocky steppes and maquis.

Its leaves are flat, lanceolate. Its flowers are usually brownish or purplish black and hairy, with light to dark brown hairs of varying density and length along the margin.

The spot, usually bright to dull metallic-blue in colour, is very variable in shape, ranging from a single transverse line to an H-shape, sometimes even subdivided into two distinct, often vertical, spots.

The sepals of this species also vary considerably in colour from green, yellowish-green, whitish-green, pink, to even almost white and they appear between the month of March and May. As for other Ophrys species, the flowers of these plants show mimicry in that they look like other insects; insects of the opposite sex would try to mate with the flower, in the process pollinating it. This plant is endemic to Malta, Gozo and Comino and it was first described in 1992.

This plant has been declared a strictly protected plant under the Flora, Fauna and Natural Habitats protection regulations and one should not prune, fell or uproot this plant without previously obtaining the necessary permits from the relevant authorities.

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