Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Orchids in the field

...and a small mystery to solve

Last May we discovered and discussed an unusual orchid, Ophrys apifera which had appeared in our garden. This year, in mid-April different specimens of orchid, glimpsed in the past but now more abundant, probably thanks to the Lack of Deer, are sprouting and budding in the lengthening grass of the more field-like areas of the garden.

This orchid might belong to the pyramidalis species of the Anacamptis genus of the Orchidaceae family, but doubts persist about colour and scent. I quote: The colour of the flower varies from pink to purple, or rarely white, and the scent is described as "foxy". 

The orchid is deep purple and white with the individual white blooms flecked with purple. Our in-house observers, known for their keen olfactory sense, have gone to verify and returned with the verdict: no foxy scent, indeed no scent at all. 

Another possibility is the Neotinea ustulata or burnt-tip orchid, characterised by its deep red flower bud tips. Yet this species is native to mountainous areas and is supposed to smell strongly of honey and the bud tips are deep red, not purple. Interestingly, both the Anacamptis pyramidalis and the Neotinea ustulata are endangered species in Britain.

So what do we have here? Can it possibly be a new orchid species? Before getting too excited we check an Italian orchid-lovers site and our mystery orchid is almost certainly and simply identified: Orchis purpurea or lady orchid, not endangered except where threatened by deer, as formerly at Le Ripe. So now all we have to do is enjoy it.

Ornithogallum umbellatum or star of Bethlehem which flowers about the same time as the orchid - another charming perennial

1 comment:

  1. A lovely description,pictorial and verbal,of the wild orchids at Le Ripe.
    These are a beautiful small selection of nature's 250,000 different flowering plants,25,000 of which are orchids.


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