Thursday, 16 August 2012

Hunting for bog orchids...

On Monday a few of us visited part of the Cadair Idris SSSI, partly in order to search for Hammarbya paludosa, bog orchid. This hasn't been recorded since 1975, and was not numerous then. However, it is a very small and inconspicuous plant, flowering fairly late in the season, and so it is probably easily overlooked. 

Hunting around a flush for Hammarbya
We were not successful in our search, although we did carry out some useful recording in an interesting site. One flush which appeared fairly base-rich included species such as Selaginella selaginoides, Briza media and Crepis paludosa. 

Crepis paludosa, marsh hawk's-beard, in fruit.
As Hammarbya is quite possibly under-recorded we would welcome any recent records - and perhaps it is a good excuse to visit some interesting areas. It is said to grow on Sphagnum and amongst grasses and on peaty edges of streams and runnels in the uplands. Curiously, it is the only orchid in Britain where the flowers are "upside down" - with the lips at the top. It is only a few centimetres high and greenish, so would reward careful hunting (excessive trampling is thought to encourage the bulbils to pop out of the ground).

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