Friday, 24 June 2016

#30DaysWild day 24: Bee orchids and broomrape

My Mum's sister had taken her to a 'secret' slope covered in amazing bee orchids last week. Apparently it's known about locally, but its location is kept quiet. It's one of those very unusual orchid sites that's not under the management of BBOWT or the National Trust and is just a slope on one of the local estates that has been left alone and allowed to flourish. We collected Bug Mad Girl from school and Mum took us there this afternoon.

What an amazing sight! There were literally hundreds of bee orchids in amongst thousands of pyramidal orchids. There were so many bee orchids you had to be really careful with each step to make sure you didn't stand on any. They were so beautiful and it was such a fantastic place to visit.


The bee orchids I've seen in the past have had 2 or maybe 3 flowers on them, but some of these were very tall and we even found one that had an amazing 13 flowers on it.

13 flowers on one bee orchid spike
By far the largest number of orchids were pyramidal orchids and we also saw some common spotted orchids, although there were relatively few of those.

Pyramidal orchids
Common spotted orchids
As if that wasn't enough, there was also common broomrape growing throughout the slope. It's an unusual plant with no chlorophyll and is parasitic on the roots of clover. I've never seen it before, but there were hundreds of flowers in amongst all the orchids.


Even all those amazing bee orchids only held Bug Mad Girl's attention for a few minutes and she was soon off hunting for bugs.
She's in there somewhere, wearing yellow
I saw my first painted lady and marbled white of the year.

Painted lady

Marbled white
It still amazes me that places like that exist and you'd just never know they were there unless somebody showed you. What a brilliant place and such a fantastic secret! Thanks Auntie Anne for sharing it with us!!

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