Thursday, 7 January 2010

Lizard Orchid

Nearly waist high the long flower spike of a Lizard Orchid I found was unmistakeable. Their height varies from 25-90cm. With nearly half the stem covered in the grey-green flowers there is nothing else it could be. Each flower has an elongated twisted lower lip which quivers in the slightest breeze.

The Lizard Orchid (Himantoglossum hircinum) grows on chalk grassland. In England they are at the limit of their range and found only on 19 sites mostly in the south-east it is a plant you are most likely to need to travel to see. 6 of its sites are golf courses – there is some speculation that their seed is being distributed on golfer’s shoes.

Flowering from early June to mid July the one I found in Sandwich Bay, Kent was past its peak. Their growth period is September – April , and flower buds are formed over two growing seasons so abundance of flowers is determined by rainfall over a two year period.

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