Posted by: Ross Gardner | June 23, 2014

Something on Orchids and definitely not about moths

It occurred to me that the previous three posts have heavily featured moths, if not exclusively, then to the extent that the accompanying photography featured a species of said insect.  It occurred to me also that perhaps I should endeavour to mix things up a bit!

This I will do with the wonderful Pyramidal Orchid, a beautiful, deep pink species with a compact flower-head shaped in such a way as to give the plant its scientific as well as its commom name.  Like many others these orchids have evolved intriguing ways of ensuring pollintation.  Little wonder that Charles Darwin was moved to write a book on the ‘Fertilisation of Orchids’.  Pyramidal Orchids are adapted for pollination my butterflies and moths (there they are again!), but with something of a twist in the tale, as described on the Urban Pollinators blog: “The proboscis is guided straight into the spur by converging ridges on the lip and once the proboscis is fully inserted in the spur the pollinia are firmly cemented in place with a viscid matter. But conversely to Butterfly and Fragrant orchids, Pyramidal orchids produce no free nectar so it is not fully clear why insects visit these flowers so persistently.”

Yesterday I searched at a site near where I live in south Essex and where I know them to occur.  Their presence is quite a remarkable one.  They do not grow in particularly large numbers and I have found them to be much more numerous on, for example, the calcareous grasslands of the North Downs of Kent, conditions which they and so many other species of orchid find preferable.  The remarkable thing in this instance however, is that this site is a former dump, with the seed presumably being transported in the topsoil used to cap the landfill.  And so here’s a picture of a splendid looking flower without a single moth in sight……

Pyramidal Orchid (Anacamptis pyramidalis).  Copyright Ross Gardner.

Pyramidal Orchid (Anacamptis pyramidalis). Copyright Ross Gardner.

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Responses

  1. hi Ross its Glyn we have a Pyramid orchid near us we also had 11 bee orchids this year.

    • Hi Glyn

      And what fine orchids they are too. Definitely one of our more ‘exotic’ looking species.


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