Friday, 20 July 2012

Fine weather for … orchids

Despite the monsoons, the bee orchid is thriving in the UK.

Indeed, many of the nation’s rarest wild flowers are relishing the rain, according to The Guardian, coming after a mild winter and dry spring.

Meanwhile, the rare Red helleborine, Cephalanthera rubra, has bloomed in Cotswold woodland. It is typically found in Europe, although classed as ‘vulnerable.

It is only seen on three sites in southern England, and was once on the verge of extinction. Seven years ago there were only three plants at the National Trust site in the Cotswolds. Thanks to conservation, there are some 30 plants at the site.

Its appearance is something of a mystery as as the particular bee that normally pollinates it in Europe is not found in the UK.

The distribution of many of such orchids is changing fast and records of some of its stranger forms are needed. The National History Museum is asking for information from volunteers. Let scientists know when you have seen any via the museum's ID forums.

Meanwhile, other plants to thrive this summer are the small restharrow, distinctive for its pink and white flowers, and nitgrass.

PK