Earlier in the year I posted about Native British Orchids. Today, I’d like to show the first native orchid to the UK that I have seen in bloom (ever!).
My partner and I set off in search of orchids on Easter Bank Holiday and actually stumbled across two different native orchids. This beautiful orchid was the only one of the two that was in bloom. The sad thing is we could have missed it, if it wasn’t for my partner’s hawk-eye vision!
Sitting in the middle of a meadow, it was about 7cm-8cm high, with the blooms forming clusters on the flower spike. The colour of the blooms has not really been captured very well with my compact camera; it was actually a darker purple than shown. At first we weren’t sure what species we found but after scouring my trusty field and site guide book, we discovered we had stumbled across a Green Winged Orchid (Anacamptis morio).
Green Winged Orchid can sometimes be confused for Early Purple Orchid. If you look carefully at the blooms, the top three petals form a sort of hood. Inside the ‘hood’ you can see green veining which is typical of this species and the key way to identify it. The stem of this orchid usually has a purple tinge to it, but is green nearer the leaves.
This particular orchid prefers unimproved grassland where methods such as grazing and mowing help to keep the grass relatively low. The best habitats are damp pastures with clay soil – which are the conditions this orchid had when we found it.
According to my trusty guide book, this orchid is a near threatened species. As climate and environmental changes occur, this species is finding it harder to survive in its preferred habitats. Some orchids find it hard to establish themselves on new sites, which is the issue faced by this species. There are a number of organisations that are doing what they can to help protect and safeguard this orchids’ survival.
Normally flowering between mid-April to mid-June, the blooms on this orchid mostly come out in May, so there are plenty more opportunities to spot these beautiful plants as we head to the warmer months. A word of caution though – tread carefully when you go out orchid spotting, you could easily stomp on them without realising.
There will be more posts to come, especially when we can identify the other species we found. At the moment, I only have photographs of their leaves and without their blooms, I will find it very hard to identify them as there are several species with spotted leaves.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this post. We had so much fun looking for orchids and as this is the first one I have ever seen growing in its native home, it’s a pretty good one to start with!