Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Orchid

It's Orchid time again and all around Shipley Park and the Woodside Nature Reserve, these delicate-looking little flowers are popping up all over the place. By far the most numerous are the Common Spotted Orchids (Dactylorhiza fuchsii).
Britain's most common species of orchid, the Common Spotted is very variable in size and colour. It's flowers can be so pale as to be almost white, or much darker pink/purple. They are always streaked and spotted with darker marks on the three-lobed lips of the flower.
The name is derived, not from the flowers, but from the leaves which are a rich green colour, spotted with purplish splodges.
Closely related to the Common Spotted, the Southern Marsh Orchid (Dactylorhiza praetermissa) is also fairly common around here. The flowers are rather similar to the Common Spotted, but the leaves are not marked and the flowers tend to be somewhat darker.
These two orchids are so closely related, they often hybridise, producing orchids with characteristics falling between the two parent species making the whole business of identification, very tricky indeed.
By far the most exciting orchid to be found around the Woodside Nature Reserve, is the Bee Orchid (Ophrys apifera).
The lower lip of this flower mimics the markings of a bee in order to attract real bees for the purposes of pollination.
A delicate little flower, they can be easily overlooked, especially as they grow amongst the taller grasses and wild flowers which tend to hide them from view. Without a doubt, they are well worth searching for and it's always an exciting time when the first Bee Orchids begin to flower.
No doubt there will be more Orchid pictures before the season ends!
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