Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Fly Orchid

The shape of the flower of the Fly Orchid (Ophrys insectifera) has evolved to attract winged insects; specifically male digger wasps. Perhaps if the pollinator was known before the plant had been named it would more awkwardly be called the Digger Wasp Orchid.

The last weekend in May, Denge Wood in Kent was full of natural history groups. I was out with a group from the Botanical Society of the British Isles (BSBI), we bumped into the Faversham Natural History group and saw hordes of photographers carrying lots of photography gear; tripods, reflectors etc. The attraction is that Bonsai Bank is a great location for orchids and butterflies. A few of us also saw a glow worm crossing the path which is not uncommon there.

Having been told that there were some Fly Orchids near the path one of my companions said he would not look for Fly Orchids but would find them by spotting the trail trampled through the grass that the other group would have left. Fly Orchids are hard to spot and groups of interested people do trample paths to get to what they want to look at. Should we take off our shoes and then we might me more careful about where we step?

Fly Orchids range from Kent to Cumbria in their distribution, but within that range they are restricted to specific areas such as the North and South Downs in Kent. They grow in open grass, well lit woodland edges and scrub. The common factor is the alkaline pH that they favour.

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