Monday, 22 February 2010

White Common Fragrant Orchid

The Common, Marsh and Heath Fragrant Orchids were only recently recognised as separate species. (They are differentiated by the proportions of the petals in particular the lower lip lobes, and some differences in habitat preference. The clearest indicator for me that this was a Common Fragrant Orchid (Gymnadenia conopsea) and not a Marsh Fragrant Orchid or a Heath Fragrant Orchid is that ‘wing’ petals on the sides of the flowers are pointed, narrow and angled downwards.

The first Common Fragrant Orchid I found on the North Downs in Kent did smell - I would say sweet more than particularly fragrant, and as there was only one flowering stem I had to get down to ground level to detect it. Heading off the path I found a colony of hundreds - smelling them before I could see them as in large numbers the smell is almost overpowering.

Most of the orchids in the colony were shades of soft pink and there were a few flowering white; Var. albiflora.