A selection of British Orchid pictures that I have taken over the past few years.

 

 

Below is a selection of wild British Orchids that I have photographed.

The Fen Orchid Liparis loeselii is one of Britain's most threatened wild flowers. There are two forms of this orchid, in the Fens of East anglia Var. loeselii occurred in a number of places from Cambridgeshire to Norfolk, but all those colonies have gone except for two or three in the Norfolk Broads. The Var. ovata form occurs in dune slacks of south Wales, where at Kenfig NNR. it was reasonably common a few years ago. Today however it is rarely seen even there, as the dune slacks have become too stable and are drying out. Below are the two different forms that I have photographed.

Above the ovata form photographed at Kenfig NNR in the late 1980's when it was common in several dune slacks

Above the loeselii form now found in very small numbers in two or three fens in the Norfolk Broads. I photographed this one in June 2008.

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Albino's in all plants and animals are extremely rare, and usually rather weak. I have had the privilege of photographing albino plants of two species of orchids. The Broad-leaved Helleborine albino has been found in Bedfordshire, and the Violet Helleborine albino is in Chiltern Hills of Buckinghamshire. Both species lack chlorophyll, having white or silver coloured leaves with rosy pink flowers.

Above and below the Bedfordshire Broad-leaved Helleborine Var. albifolia.

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Below is a group of typical Violet Helleborines, and the albino.

Above, a group of flowering Violet Helleborine Orchids in a Beech woodland on the Chiltern Hills in Buckinghamshire. August 2010. Below is a very rare albino form of the same species.

A very rare sight of a albino var. rosia of the Violet Helleborine growing in the Beech woods on the Chiltern Hills. in Buckinghamshire. August 2009.

Above a close up of the albino Violet Helleborine, and below the typical coloured flowers of the same species.

A close-up of typical Violet Helleborine flowers.

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Below are pictures of some of our many Marsh Orchid species.

Above the Hebridean Marsh Orchid, North Uist. June 2009. The World population of this orchid grows mostly on two areas of dune slacks on North Uist, in the Outer Hebrides, where it grows it is quite common.

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Below are some forms and subspecies of the Early Marsh Orchid Dactylorhiza incarnata that occur in Britain. There are several different colour forms of most subspecies.

Above is the most common and widespread form of the Early Marsh Orchids, the pink flowering ssp. incarnata (above).

Above a colour variant of ssp. incarnata found on North Uist in 2009.

 

Early Marsh Orchids ssp coccinia is common on the Machair of North Uist, in the Hebrides. This striking subspecies is very local in Britain, occurring on sand dune areas from northern Scotland to southern England, with good colonies in suitable areas in Wales. Where it occurs it may be abundant.

 

Above is the Subspecies pulchella that is one of the more widespread forms, usually mostly on acid bog areas.

In some colonies a form of the Early Marsh orchid occurs with very pale yellow or yellowish white flowers, above is Var. ochrantha. This form is very scarce, and I photographed this one many years ago in Surrey.

Below is the very rare subspecies ochroleuca that is now restricted to two sites in Britain, one in Cambridgeshire, the other is where I photographed the below plant, in it's Suffolk location.

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A Monkey Orchid in Oxfordshire, Late May 2009. This rare British orchid is restricted to this site on the Chiltern Hills, and several sites in Kent.

 

  

The Lady Orchid in Britain is mostly confined to the woods of north Kent, where they may be quite common in mid May. Besides the normal form (above left), a pale form occurs fairly frequently.

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Two fine specimens of the Military Orchid in Oxfordshire, late May 2009.

Military Orchid close-up. Oxfordshire. May 2009.

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Lady's Slipper Orchid at Silverdale, Cumbria, May 2009. I understand that someone dug this plant up a few days after I photographed it.

Close up of the Lady Slipper Orchid. Cumbria, Late May 2009.

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Above the normal form of the Burnt Orchid, and below the pink form.

Burnt Orchids, Bedfordshire, May 2009.

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The Bee Orchid Ophrys apifera is probable the most easily reconsised British Orchid.

A typical Bee Orchid (above), and below a selection of aberrant forms that occur in Britain.

 

The "Wasp" form trollii of the Bee Orchid is a rare site in Eastern England, but found regularly in some sites in south west England from the Costwolds to Dorset.

 

Bee Orchid, form bicolor, a rarity in Britain. Essex, June 2006.

 

Bee Orchid, var. friburgensis, A great rarity, having the normally small green petals greatly enlarged and pink in colour, so resembling sepals. Somerset, June 2008.

This pale form Var. flavescens (above) lacks some anthocyanin pigments, and is said to be rare. I photographed this on a spoil heap in the center of Swansea, Wales, in 2008.  Below is Var. chlorantha that totally lacks anthocyanin pigments and is in some places not uncommon.

Above, Bee Orchid Var. chlorantha that totally lacks anthocyanin pigmentation. Photographed in Suffolk about 20 years ago, where it occurs regularly in some colonies.

 

The Var. belgarum form of the Bee Orchids has been found widely in Britain, but is scarce. In the Biggleswade colony of between 1000, and 2000 plants only one has been found, that flowered in 2007 and 2008. The area where it flowered has now become very overgrown by course vegetation.

Two plants of the above form flowered in the Biggleswade colony in 2009. They were not found in 2010. Maybe the spikes appeared but were eaten off by the large rabbit population that is present.

 

All pictures are Copyright of Richard Revels FRPS