|Man Orchid, Aceras anthropophorum. Ranscombe Farm County Park, 25 May 2012.|
We saw many interesting and beautiful plants, some of them tiny and some less so. I will cover some of the agricultural "weeds" next time, and here I will put the rarest of the plants we saw.
The Man Orchid isn't at all spectacular, and in fact it can be quite hard to pick out among grass and other wildflowers, even when it's in full bloom. The specimen below on the left is just about as big and obvious as they get.
Once you have your eye in, you can pick them out, but it would be very easy for an unknowing person to trample them. I saw an interesting butterfly, a Green Hairstreak, flitting over the patch these were growing in and it was tricky to follow it while at the same time being careful of what I trod on.
Close up, it's quite unusual. It gets its name from the flowers, which dangle something that looks as though it has arms and legs. They can be seen clearly in the top photo.
The Lady Orchid, on the right, is much more flamboyant and really stands out, growing among sparse vegetation deep among the trees. We saw 21 flowering spikes in one small area.
|Lady Orchid, Orchis purpurea. Ranscombe Farm County Park, 25 May 2012.|
As well as these two orchids, we saw White Helleborines; some growing near the Man Orchids, and some near the Ladies.
|White Helleborine, Cephalanthera damasonium. Ranscombe Farm County Park, 25 May 2012.|
These orchid are regarded as an endangered species, so I was surprised to see that they are not listed among the plants that are given special protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act. However, the Act gives all wildflowers protection against being picked, uprooted or destroyed, so that is a start.