Orchids are extremely dependent on ground fungi. Their seeds are tiny, like clouds of dust, providing little protein, so specific fungi are necessary for their germination. The widespread use of fungicide in gardens and the countryside has, therefore, been a real threat. Orchids are protected by law but those that are illegally removed rarely survive because of this fungal dependency. In culturing British orchids, Kew Gardens is doing much to ensure that rare species do not become extinct.
Orchids have three petals; the markings on the lower one, the lip, aid identification that otherwise can be very difficult, particularly as some species readily hybridise. Orchids grow most often in calcareous, flower-rich meadows and, therefore, these meadow-types need protection.
|early spider orchid (c) John Tilt|
In conclusion, there is much that is not understood about this beautiful plant and more recordings and biological records are needed.
The next meeting of the Malvern Group is at 7.30 pm on Thursday March 7th at Malvern Evangelical Church. Iain Green, wildlife photographer, will give an illustrated talk: On the wild side: from Downing Street to our local high street. We look forward to seeing you there.
Derek, Malvern Local Group