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2146 Views 2 Replies Last post: Jul 6, 2012 4:18 PM by Susan RSS
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Jul 5, 2012 9:31 AM

Wild Flower

Flower one.jpg


Can any one ID this seen last week in a meadow situation in a country park in Essex



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    Jul 6, 2012 11:22 AM (in response to Susan)
    Re: Wild Flower

    Hi Susan,

    from the unopened flower bud and the green seed pods this looks to me like a Bee orchid, Ophrys apifera, there is some info about it here, and here


    One thing that is odd about this flower though is that all the "petals" are pink and similar.  As you can see in this pic, there are three pink petal-like structures - these are the sepals which have a petal-like appearance - surrounding a complex brownish structure - the bee mimic bit - and a green hood which is where the pollen sacs - pollinia - are. The brown and green structures are the equivalent of the three true petals.


    Your flowers have six pink petals which all look similar. This suggests that somehow the development of the flowers has become confused at some stage and either it has six petal-like sepals and the petals have not developed fully or the petals have a sepal like appearance.


    Because the green hood is present in your flower - and also the good old Occam's razor - my money is on the first scenario i.e. that this plant has flowers with two sets of sepals being developed and the inner petals are not being developed fully due to some genetic glitch during the formation of the flower.


    The reason for this is unclear but Ophrys are predominantly self-fertile in the UK as the right bee isn't present here - they are cross-pollinated further south in Europe where the bee is present. As a result of this any genetic mutations which do not kill the offspring are not selected against during the normal process of natural selection.  The fat green seed pods of this plant bear that out, the flowers have fertilised themselves and seed is forming. Any resulting off-spring will be highly likely to have this same genetic mutation.


    I hope that elucidates rather than confuses! An interesting find...


    Best wishes,


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