Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Orchid Hunting

Chris and I took a couple of hours off this morning to go orchid hunting at a couple of local sites. Our first stop was Southorpe Meadow NR, where a Greater Butterfly Orchid had been reported. We found it quite easily, a bit worse for wear, but now protected by a wire cage. The hay-meadow was looking in very good condition, and there were many other orchids present, including Southern Marsh Orchids, Common Spotted Orchids, Pyramidal Orchids and Bee Orchids. 

Greater Butterfly Orchid Platanthera chlorantha

Southern Marsh-orchid Dactylorhiza praetermissa
Common Spotted-orchid Dactylorhiza fuchsii

Pyramidal Orchid Anacamptis pyramidalis

Bee orchid Ophrys apifera
Dactylorhiza orchids are very promiscuous and we also found the hybrid between Common Spotted and Southern Marsh Orchid Dactylorhiza x grandis and a rather more mysterious form which I suspect is a hybrid between Southern Marsh and Early Marsh Orchid Dactylorhiza x wintoni, as well as a splendidly deep purple specimen that is probably another hybrid.

Mystery orchid - very deep purple, quite large, with unspotted leaves and well-marked loops on lip

Dactylorhiza x grandis

Dactylorhiza x wintoni?

Very narrow flowers of possible D. x wintoni

We then headed out to Barnack Hills and Holes where there were sweeps of Fragrant Orchids. Chris had wanted to see Man Orchid and I managed to find one that was still flowering, though most were long over. However, the highlight was finding three Frog Orchids, two of which were extremely tiny. The other botanists examining them rather gave away their location! So within 10 miles of home we'd managed to see 10 different orchid taxa within the space of two hours - not bad at all!

A slope covered with Fragrant Orchids Gymnadenia conopsea

Fragrant Orchid Gymnadenia conopsea

A very tiny Frog Orchid Coeloglossum viride

The largest Frog Orchid, about 12cm in height

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