The Friends get very excited about the reserve’s orchids.
Email from Simon Fri 18/06/2021 17:29:
You’re not going to believe it! Was in the park with Clive earlier and I think we’ve found some Early Marsh Orchids. I will be there first thing in the morning to get some photographs.
Email from Suzanne Fri 18/06/2021 17:51:
All the marsh orchids are Dactylorhiza, as is the common spotted orchid, and unfortunately they cross-pollinate and produce hybrids like crazy. So this could be a horror to identify and might need an expert. Try and get photographs of the leaves as well as the flower. The shape of the labellum is important as well as the markings on it; the back of the flower where there is a spur that contains the nectary; the length of the bracts.
Email from Ian Sun 20/06/2021 10:47:
Waiting with bated breath.
Email from Simon Sun 20/06/2021 12:06:
Here are the pictures of the (hopefully) Early Marsh Orchid.
I think we shouldn’t disclose where these orchids are in the park. I am going to double check this afternoon, but a while ago I counted seven Common Spotted by the pond and when I checked a few days ago I could only find a couple. Ian has observed the same. I have seen buttercups, daisies and bluebells picked this year, I don’t want orchids to be added to my list.
Email from Editor Mon 21/06/2021 08:08:
I agree, Simon, we need to be really careful not to let people know where these rare finds are. I am just now going back to edit the post about the bee orchids.
Email from Suzanne Sun 20/06/2021 13:22:
It’s definitely Dactylorhiza of some sort. My money, so far, is on southern marsh orchid, Dactylorhiza praetermissa. The flower head is very dense for an early marsh orchid and the bracts are very long; early marsh orchids leaves are hooded at their tip and these appear not to be. Let me investigate a while but I think you are going to have to refer it the county recorder via either Ali or Vicky.
We need to decide what to do about people picking the orchids. Top secret locations; notices; patrols; armed vigilantes? I expect you can tell I feel very strongly about this.
Email from Ian Sun 20/06/2021 14:17:
Sharon Pilkington is the Wilts Flower/Plant recorder. She knows the park quite well.
Email from Simon 21 Jun 2021, at 11:53:
Sharon Pilkington has confirmed that the latest orchid we have found is the Southern Marsh Orchid.
Email from Clive Mon 21/06/2021 13:02:
This is good news! It emphasises the importance of our Nature Reserve status.
Email from Countryside Officer Ali Mon 21/06/2021 12:02:
Brilliant news, thanks Simon. So that’s Southern Marsh, Pyramidal, Bee, Common Spotted and Broad leaved Helleborine. Not bad going!
All images © Simon Knight