Friday, 20 July 2012

Rare orchid stolen

One of the UK’s rarest plants decided to take root in the middle of one of Europe’s largest roundabouts near Cardiff.

The species was so at home that two crimson and purple rhodochila variants of the normally pink common spotted orchid (pictured) blossomed at the Coryton interchange.

Then, to the surprise of members of Cardiff Naturalists Society a few years ago, two crimson and purple rhodochila variants of the normally pink common spotted orchid blossomed at the Coryton interchange – and were thought to be the first examples of the orchid ever to take root in Wales. But now it seems the stunning plants have been stolen.

Used only to seeing the hybrid in English counties such as Wiltshire and Kent, people drove from as far afield as Somerset to visit the surprisingly rich nature reserve, also home to rare insects.

On July 1, an experienced botanist, reported ‘the best rhodochila variant I have ever seen’. The hyper chronic form of the common spotted orchid with its excess of pigment and colour in a solid blotch of beautiful crimson spikes is apparently very rare. Perhaps in a colony of hundreds, you might just get a single one.

According to local naturalists, he is said to be devastated to discover that both plants had been dug up – and inexpertly at that, so it seems the specimens were unlikely to survive.

PK