Friday, 14 June 2013

Catch a glimpse of spider orchids ...

A rare flower which hasn't been seen in Jersey for nearly a century has been found in St Ouen.

It's the first record of the Early Spider Orchid in the island since 1929.

Early Spider Orchids were recorded in Jersey in 1910 with the last record being in 1929. The orchid was discovered by chance by National Trust staff members Sally Dalman and Stephen Le Quesne who were leading a half-term nature club for children. It was found growing on a patch of dune grassland in an area that has recently been intensively managed by the the Trust’s ranger team.

Sally Dalman said: ‘It’s an incredibly exciting discovery and all the Trust staff and many Island botanist’s are thrilled by this find. Finding it was a complete fluke as we were out leading a nature walk at the time.’

The find was verified by the botany section of the Société Jersiaise shortly afterwards.

This species of orchid is mainly found on the south coast of England in Dorset, Sussex and Kent and flowers from late March until early June. It has a preference for locations near the sea, largely on shortly grazed turf.

According to the National Trust, early Spider-orchids usually have two to seven flowers on a stem although some plants at Samphire Hoe in Kent have up to 17 flowers on a stem. Another feature which varies between colonies is the success of seed setting. They can self-pollinate but most pollination that takes place is carried out by pollinators, largely the male solitary bee, variations in seed setting could be linked to the absence of pollinators. Because Early Spider-orchids rarely reproduce vegetatively the colonies of short lived orchids depend on seed set from the low rate of pollination that does take place.

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