Friday, 8 August 2008

Indiana Dave and the quest of the Ghost Orchid 8th August 2008.

Another Orchid tick
Narrow-Lipped Helleborine

A good example of
Broad-Leaved Helleborine

Another angle of the
NL Helles

Another shot of the
BL Helles

Following top secret instructions of the location of this site, I arrived at the site mid morning to look for the Holy Grail of British Orchids in the form of the mythical Ghost Orchid(Epipogium aphyllum).
Although it is now over ten years since the last time Ghost Orchid was recorded flowering this country. The recent poor weather conditions over the last couple of Summers has increased the possibly of the orchid flowering.
Checking around the surrounding Beechwoods, I saw plenty of mushrooms and toadstools, which was a good sign of possibly flowering, as the Ghost Orchid is saprophytic and grows only in deep leaf-litter where the ground is virtually bare of vegetation.
Whilst look for the Ghost Orchids I came across a group of 20+ Narrow-Lipped Helleborines(Epipactis leptochila). The majority of the plants had gone over, but I did find a couple of good examples which were just still in flower. What was pleasing about this sighting was that it was another orchid tick on my British List.
Nearby I also found at least fifteen Broad leaved Helleborines (Epipactis helleborine), which like the Narrow-Lipped had mostly gone over. However I did find a very nice example which did look more like the rare form var.purpurata but this form is very difficult to ID at the best of times!
Over the next two and half hours I searched woods and found a few more Broad-Leaved Helleborines, but drew a total blank for the mythical Ghost Orchid.
Walking slowly back to the car I came to the conclusion that maybe only an organised searched of the area would find this mythical plant or regrettable the Ghost Orchid is now finally extinct in this country?
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