Sunday, 30 June 2013

Orchid time

Spotted orchids

Pyramidal orchid.
One of my annual highlights is the sudden appearance of  bee orchids on the Reserve. They just seem to pop up overnight, like fungi. Spotted orchids are visible for weeks before they flower. We can often finds rosettes of spotted leaves in May followed by stems with closed buds that seem to go dormant until the temperature is right. The result is worth waiting for as the exuberant spikes of flowers are really impressive. On the Meadow Trail all of the flowers are a similar pink colour but they can vary from white through to deep purple. The size of the flower spike seems to depend on the season and the amount of competing vegetation.

Although spotted orchids are the most common species here, we also see a few pyramidal orchids. They are out now on the Reserve and in other places. I saw one today on the roadside near the Tesco's in Huntingdon. They can be white but more commonly they are a deep wine colour.

Spotted orchid.
As for bee orchids, I'm getting worried. I found three or four flowers in a new place this week. They were tall, healthy spikes growing in short turf. However, when I looked in al the regular spots, I found none. Maybe next week?