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Sunday, 12 June 2011

Nine native orchid species found on one Sussex walk.

On this walk from the Mid Sussex Ramblers' programme, lead by me, six of us found NINE separate orchid species on this day in the rain.
First off were Twayblades and Early purple-orchids, both of which were going over.  It helps to have posted their pictures on this blog in the preceding weeks.  Enter a name in the search box and you can see them in full flower.
Above is what Early purple-orchids looked like today -- gone to seed.
The walk started from Hurstpierpoint and along the track southwards was this Pyramidal orchid.  That was the third species that we saw.
Moving up the hill were lots of Common Spotted orchids, above.  That makes four species.
The basal leaves of this Twayblade are shrivelling as the plant produces seed.
Ascending the hill, we entered the zone of Fragrant orchids.  There were thousands.  You need to get your nostril right next to the flower to appreciate its exquisite scent.  Above, Ramblers about to get on their knees on this Sunday afternoon!  How many times have you seen that before?  Never I imagine!
Well worth getting on your knees for!  Here it is; the lovely Fragrant orchid -- the fifth species this day so far.
With winds gusting to 30mph and continuous rain, we sheltered in this depression half way up the hill to eat our lunch out of the worst of the weather.
The walk over the top was wet and cold but the group elected to carry on and not shorten the walk at the first logical escape route.  A great decision as we will see.
Where the woods had been cleared over a year ago were many Fly orchids.  Last year, near here, we photographed them with pollinating Digger wasps.  I also met Julia Bradbury here the following day!

So here it is; the Fly orchid.  Species no. six on this day.

Species number seven was the Butterfly orchid; still in flower in this sheltered spot.
Isn't it lovely?

Species number eight was the Bee orchid.   This was a beautiful specimen...... and I messed up the wide photo somehow.  It was blowing a gale.  Perhaps I'll go back again with a tripod.

The rain was unrelenting and I shortened the walk to escape the rain and to spot a ninth orchid.

Its white flowers went weeks ago but these are White Helleborines.  And that is species number NINE. 
Our goal was eight species.  We found NINE.
My thanks to the six Ramblers who braved the weather on this day and especially to Gloria, who would not (yet) describe herself as a Botanist, yet who consistently finds rare plants that I miss.

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