Monday, 12 July 2010

Heath Spotted-Orchid

In a secret dip in the heath, where an old drainage ditch was once dug out of the sandy hillside and where water still runs after heavy rain, I found the orchids once again. Sheltered from walkers, from grazing ponies and from prying eyes, they grow out of the bank between grass and bracken stems. They are here for just a few weeks every summer. Last week we took photographs. Even in a month of drought, this quiet place has enough moisture to make grass green where the orchids grow.

The Collins Book of Complete British Wildlife - Photoguide - by Paul Sterry (1997)
describes the Heath Spotted-Orchid, Dactylorhiza maculata :

" Height up to 50cm.
Superficially rather similar to the common spotted-orchid but restricted to damp, mostly acid soils on heaths and moors. The leaves are lanceolate and dark spotted, those at the base of the plant being largest and broadest; narrower leaves sheathe the lower parts of the stalk. The flowers are usually very pale, sometimes almost white, but have darker streaks and spots; the lower lip is broad and 3-lobed but unlike the common spotted orchid, the central lobe is smaller than the outer two.Flowers borne in open, spikes, May - August."


Morning's Minion said...

What beautiful flowers--I feel that you have shared something rare and lovely. Almost as good as being there to discover it.

Kath said...

How absolutely divine. So delicate. I was just thinking about that episode of Midsomer murders, where Barnabys side-kick trod on that rare orchid and squashed it flat. I hope this one doesnt suffer a similar fate. from what you describe, it sounds as if it is well hidden.

Valerie said...

I profess to adore orchids yet have never seen a wild one. The flower you show looks like lace, absolutely beautiful.

ChrisJ said...

I imagine these orchids are quite rare. We used to have a wild purple orchid that grew on the cliffs at Flamborough. Few and far between now I'm sorry to say.