Sunday, 27 April 2014

Wild about orchids in Montenegro


If you’re a fan of wild orchids, and bee orchids in particular, check out a charming post by Marianne van Twillert about orchids in Montenegro.

Did you know that ophrys is Greek for “eyebrow”? According to a legend, these flowers provided a brown dye which the Romans used to day their eyebrows and hair. Ophrys was first mentioned in the book “Natural History” by Pliny the Elder (23-79 AD).

Most ophrys orchids are found in the Mediterranean region. They are dependent on symbiotic fungi, so it is almost impossible to transplant then.

The most famous one is the bee orchid (Ophrys apifera), but there are also fly orchids, spider orchids, mosquito orchids and wasp orchids. This is commonly known, but I was unaware that such orchids can be seen in the mountains and forests of central Montenegro.

Marianne says she was lucky enough to find Bertoloni’s bee orchid near a small spring along the hiking trail from Lovćen to Kotor.

There are also super photos of the early purple orchid (Orchis mascula), the yellow elder-flowered orchid (Dactylorhiza sambucina). The specific Latin name “sambucina” refers to the smell of elder emanating by some plants of this species.

You can also read about the lizard orchid (Himantoglossum hircinum) and the monkey orchid (Orchis simia). I didn’t know they smelled like a ripe orange.

Marianne suggests in her blog that someone organise wildflower or orchid tours for foreign tourists. What a brilliant idea.

PS I have visited Montenegro. I loved it so much I began to write a six-part fantasy series based there. Book One, The Cloud Pearl, is now on Amazon.