The Best flies and bees are plants! Now is the time that many of our orchids are in flower and some of the most striking are the Ophrys (Fly, Bee and Spider Orchids). While Fly's are in decline and Spiders have always been rare, the Bee is definitely increasing - a consequence of our more Mediterranean climate. There are lots of different forms and we really would like to see your images and sightings as they are under-recorded!
I came across these beauties a few months back when visiting Cromer! No idea what species they are, but there was a particular meadow that was full of them. Really great to find them, and these were the first I've seem growing wild.
Nice pics! You've got Epipactis palustris (Marsh Helleborine) and Common Spotted Orchids (Dactylorhiza fuchsii). The first is really nice - like a lot opf our plants of unimproved wetlands it has declined a lot and I guess is now most frequently found in coastal dune-slacks but does have a bit of a stronghold in the Broads. Its quite variable in the intensity of the purplish pigments - your first photo shows quite a pale-flowered plant but it does still show some purple so can't be called var. ochroleuca/var albiflora.
On a patch of nearby chalk grassland, so far this year, I have counted 17 Bee Orchids (only 5 last year) and 20 Man Orchids (only 12 last year). There also seems to be many more Pyramid and Common Spotted Orchids than last year. I wonder if this is the result of the weather or of a second season of conservation grazing by 2 ponies.
You might like to watch our bee orchids and insect mimicry video to find out more about some of these beautiful orchids - Fred visited the North Downs in Kent on a rather blustery day! And we've added a slideshow of orchid images of some of the unusual varieties.
Please keep adding your own images here, with info about where you saw them - as Fred says, we're keen to know about your sightings, particularly of unusual forms, as they are under-recorded.
really interesting to hear that you've been finding more this year. I'm particularly interested in your Man Orchids - this is a species that the BSBI have targeted for monitoring this year but in several places where I'm familiar with it it hasn't done well this year.
An image of an interesting peloric form (where the petals including the lip look like sepals) of the bee orchid has recently been posted on the ID forum. You can see it here.
12 July 2012. At Bishop Middleham Quarry, County Durham. Hundreds of spotted orchid, a few pyramidal orchid, a few fragrant orchid, a very few bee orchid, many dark red helleborines coming into flower.
Message was edited by: Amateur. spelling corrected.
Thanks for sharing some nice pics. Its a nice site - haven't been there for over 20 years sadly so glad to know that it's still well worth a visit! I seem to recall there being Butterfly Orchids too.... perhaps just a senior moment though?
Fragrant Orchids are always worth looking twice at - where once we just thought we had 1 species we now know we have 3! The shape of the labellum, flowering time and to an extent habitats differ.
on 5 July 2012, common spotted orchids in volumes, several fragrant orchids, and one bee orchid. http://www.flickr.com/photos/jimbarton/sets/72157630456255944/
Liz is quite right this is a small plant of Snapdragon - Antirrhinum majus.
I think that people often think plants with showy zygomorphic flowers (i.e. ones that are bilaterally as opposed to radially symmetrical) are orchids and they've got a point as all of our orchids do have flowers like that. The orchids have an inferior ovary though - i.e the petals, etc are borne on the top of the bit that will become the seed pod not wrapped around it, hiding it as here.
Earlier this month there were lots of bee orchids on the verge beside the South Norfolk Council offices' carpark. and one solitary bee orchid in verge about half a mile away, both Long Stratton. Quite a few on Tibenham Airfield, also South Norfolk
A friend at work passed an article from the Guardian on to me about this web page.
We have 3 resident Bee orchids on our Chemical site built along the southerly bank of the Solent, Hythe Southampton.
I think they are apifera.
This year one plant apparently had a good flower spike but the slugs ignored the danger tape and metal fencing which has been errected around it by orchid enthusiasts on site.
There are also quite alot of (possibly) Early Marsh orchids which did exceptionally well this year spreading from their usual large group and springing up to dot around a few more distant slopes.
I thought it might be nice to mention that these orchids and their soil symbionts can still manage to survive on a site like this.
Also saw quite a few orchids on holiday in Devon at the end of June at Finlake Holiday Park near Newton Abbot. Apparently the lodges are built in an old quarry. The deciduous/ oak woodland was amazing and looked really old. I was really suprised when I was told by a groundsman that it wasn't. There were alot of (possibly) fragrant orchids dotted throughout. It made my holiday even nicer to spend a week living amongst them.
The groundsman said there were Bee orchids at the park but I didn't get to see any.
Since orchids caught my interest I have always assumed that a region had to contain a pristine and un damaged microbiological world for orchids to grow. It really suprises me that obviously when by rare chance the right soil conditions and fungus come together these ingenius plants manage to flower.
Noticed quite a few pyramidal orchids along the roadsides while in Devon too.
Very interesting and bizarre that the weird wet weather has triggered or permitted more flowering. Sounds baffling!
A more unusual orchid. This is a Tyne helleborine from Williamston River Shingle which is an SSSI of metalliferous outwash of the historic mine workings at the top of the Tyne valley.
Interestingly, because the mines are shut, the SSSI is described as
Condition: Unfavourable declining
as it leaches out its metal contamination over time, so that it is no longer as good for these helleborines and other plants that like that sort of soil.
Four bee orchids turned up in a wild flower patch in our woodland in late June 2012, Leafield, West Oxfordshire. It was such an exciting surprise - this is the first time we have seen orchids here! This appears to have been a bumper year for them overall. The patch where they appeared is mown once a year in September and is on very poor limey soil.
'pdh' has spotted his first orchid of the year at Fontmell Down in Dorset and posted an image of it.
Do keep telling us about your orchid sightings this year everyone.
Think I have found two locations with Bee Orchids (?) with total of 42 plants. As yet there are no flower spikes to verify the variety. Best I can offer are early photos. Several have grown a stem over the past 7-10 days.
As a 'novice' I would welcome advice/comments.
Location Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk
Hi Aussie Ed,
spot on with your ID. It can be pretty difficult telling a lot of Orchids apart vegetatively. John Poland's excellent Vegetative Key helps a little but not for everything. There is something reasonably distinctive about Bee Orchid leaves though (although both Spiders can be similar - if usually smaller - and you are unlikely just to stumble on them) - the colour and an almost puckered silvery translucency to surface between the veins of the leaves which your photo shows nicely. By the time they are this far on you can see that there are only going to be few but big flowers which rules everything else out.
All the best
Its worth pointing out that the pictures are of the hybrid between the Monkey and the Lady Orchids (Orchis x angusticruris) which are only known in the UK from this site and which have developed over the last c. 10 years following the appearance of the Lady Orchid after some scrub clearance. I believe the number of hybrids has reached 135 this year and they do look very striking. Well worth looking at the excellent website maintained by the warden - just google Hartslock.
Genetic work suggests that the Monkey's here have captured some genes from the very rare Military Orchid which used to grow nearby in the 19th century but is now only known from 3 sites in Britain. Paradoxically though they are paler and smaller than "purer" monkey orchid plants from its other known British site in Kent.
Here's Mum - Lady Orchid (Orchis purpurea) and Dad - Monkey Orchid (Orchis simia)
and below is the Military Orchid (Orchis militaris) from its Suffolk site - which had its annual opening last weekend (sorry if you missed it) - Google Rex Graham reserve for more info.
At roundabout, top of M25 J8 (Reigate) in NW corner by traffic lights saw three Bee Orchids as I waited for lights to turn green. There's a patch of rough grass which never gets maintained and had one Bee last year.
A few Pyramidals (I think - hard to be sure in rush hour traffic) earlier in June on next section round by A217 lanes to Reigate / M25 slip road westbound but grass gets mown by council unfortunately and cuttings never removed. Few Pyramidals this year compared to previous.
I'm always hoping for the lights to be red on teh roundabout so I can have quick look. Great to see the Bee Orchids with the M25 streaming by underneath.
Hello - I'd be grateful if you could confirm bee orchid please? I noticed the rosette of leaves in our lawn before its first mow in April, and have mowed around it since. We are just south of Ulverston in south cumbria - not many records in the Cumbria flora (though there are a few from this area) and I gather that this species is expanding its range northwards. Many thanks. Edward Mills
Edward, Good to see you identified these before mowing (as did Melissa). Nice picture and very clearly a Bee Orchid. Located some in my lawn for first time this year. Now set aside an area 6 m x 4m as a wild flower patch.
Aussie Ed here. I had a good showing of Bee Orchids in my back lawn this past summer (27 flowered) plus a further 16 in nearby green space. Council very co-operative in not mowing the green space once I informed them.
Die back of leaves over late July/Aug/Sept has now revealed new leaf growth of 19 plants which will now 'winter over'. I kept the seed so hope for further propogation in coming years. Location Bury St Edmunds.