Thursday, 1 July 2010

Man Orchid

There were a couple of Man Orchids (Aceras anthropophorum) on the same site at Wye in Kent as the Lady Orchids. While the Lady Orchids were easily seen from a distance it took careful searching through the grass by a companion who knew Man Orchids were somewhere there to find them. At about 20cm high and with a slender raceme of greenish flowers these orchids blend into the grass.

The flowers are quite anthropomorphic as beneath the hood of the flower the lip hangs down split into arms and legs. The hood is yellow-green and the lip is yellow and sometimes edged in red.

The Man Orchids were growing in an area of shade free grass, but they can also be found in open woodland and scrub. When I saw them at the end of May they were in an optimum condition with all the open flowers fresh and some buds still too open. They flower from May – June, as always flowering times can vary according to location, temperatures and previous rain fall. Bearing in mind how cold the winter was it is likely that next year with milder winter temperatures and a little more rain they could have peaked by the end of May.

The Man Orchid is considered endangered and we only found two in flower on the site. It is likely that there were more plants there either not flowering or unnoticed in the sward. Growing nearby were two other green flowered plants with similar leaves; Twayblade Orchids and Common Adder’s-Tongue ferns forming a thick carpet.

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