Monday, 27 January 2014

Orchid responds to climate change?

Ladies’-tresses orchids are gracing the headlines once again, this time in Canada.

Orchid fan Paul Catling was exploring the Burnt Lands Provincial Park east of Almonte when he came across some late-blooming wildflowers.

According to a local report, there are many orchids in Eastern Ontario. But his discovery puzzled him. They resembled nodding ladies’-tresses, but they were blooming too late.

Mr Catling, a scientist and wildflower expert, reckons the orchids were, in fact, Great Plains ladies’-tresses (Spiranthes magnicamporum) which flourish from Manitoba to Texas.

But why were they growing so far north? One unnerving argument is that they’re a tough breed and have been there since the ice age and are now revitalised by climate change.

The plant is 25-30cm high, with bright white flowers and a strong, complex fragrance, with rose and vanilla accents.

There are more than 25,000 orchid species in the world, mostly tropical. With this arrival, there are now 45 orchids native to the Ottawa area.

By Pamela Kelt

PS A rare ladies'-tresses orchid was also found recently in Scotland - see my blog article.

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