Waiting for integrative taxonomy: Morphospecies as an operational proxy for the radiative and reticulate genus Ophrys L. (Orchidaceae)?


  • Errol Véla University of Montpellier; UMR AMAP, CIRAD bâtiment PS2, TA/A51, 34298 Montpellier cedex 5
  • Khellaf Rebbas University Mohamed Boudiaf of M ’ Sila; Département des sciences de la nature et de la vie, Faculté des sciences, 28000 M ’ Sila
  • Roland Martin Mediterranean Society of Orchidology; rue Aramand, 84240 La Motte-d ’ Aigues
  • Geraud de Premorel University of Montpellier; UMR AMAP, CIRAD bâtiment PS2, TA/A51, 34298 Montpellier cedex 5
  • Jean-Marc Tison French Botanical Society; 4 promenade du Décumanus, 38080 L ’ Isle-d ’ Abeau




Recently published botanical floras provided an opportunity to develop operational systems for identifying in the field in France of species of the difficult genus Ophrys. Its specific and infra-specific taxonomy is extremely complex because of conflicting points of view and/or insufficient knowledge about specific biological features. In order to produce an identification key based on observable morphological criteria we developed a pragmatic taxonomy suitable for non-expert botanists, which includes “morphospecies” that are unambiguously identifiable based on a number of unique or a combination of diagnostic criteria and “subspecies” that are sets of populations sharing the same geographical and ecological adaptations but not distinctly differing morphologically. The taxonomic scheme reviewed here for the section Pseudophrys is well correlated with the floral chemical signatures of all the French taxa. This intermediate position, between splitters (mainly orchidologists) and lumpers (mainly geneticists), will hopefully enable us to revise the taxonomy of this genus at the Euro- Mediterranean level.