September 23, 2017

Common Spotted-orchid (Dactylorhiza fuchsii)

I always thought orchids were rare things. Growing up in this country I don’t think I saw or at least recognised one, until relatively recently but it turns out that they’re the second largest family of flowering plants.

They demonstrate a dramatic amount of adaptations and are found in every habitat except deserts and glaciers but it’s the complex relationship with their pollinators which has produced some of their more bizarre looking flowers. These highly specialised pollination mechanisms have lead to their being studied a great deal, the most famous of which being “The Various Contrivances by which Orchids are Pollinated by Insects” by a certain Charles Darwin (1862).

This species, Dactylorhiza fuchsii, is reasonably typical of the range of British species, all of which are terrestrial herbaceous perennials and as its name suggests, its one of our more common species. Indeed the sun dappled wooded area in which I took this photograph was very densely populated and there were several other similar sites nearby too.