ORCHIDS NAMED AFTER INSECTS
of these species has evolved a flower structure that is designed
to mimic and attract specific insects, but they are members of two
distinct families - Ophrys and Platanthera:-
the mimicry of the flower, the Bee Orchid in Cumbria is close
to its northern limit and is not pollinated by bees. Plan
B operates and seed is set by self-pollination. Vegetative
reproduction may also occur.
species of open calcareous grassland, it readily colonises
the bare ground of man-made sites such as spoil heaps
and quarries and even limestone chippings in a supermarket
carpark. Its stronghold in the county is in the south
west around the Duddon Estuary (Hodbarrow may have hundreds
in a good year) and the Furness Peninsula, but declines have
occurred as quarries have been taken for other purposes. It
also occurs at a handful of sites around the Kent Estuary.
is typically from the third week of June; each stem
holds a handful of flowers, rarely ten or more.
mimicry here is perfect to attract male digger wasps, even
to the extent of producing imitation folded wings, antennae
and a pheromone scent.
species of limestone pavements and roadsides, it is found
around the head of Morecambe Bay, for example on Whitbarrow,
and on the limestone at the head of the Eden Valley (where
it is at the northern limit in Britain). Surprisingly it
is not recorded in the south west of the county where the
Bee Orchid thrives.
can be a month earlier than the Bee Orchid, typically from
the third week of May; each stem holds a handful
of small widely-spaced flowers, rarely eight or more. It
can be very difficult to spot at first, but often several
other spikes then become apparent in the vicinity. Occasionally,
it can grow very tall to 60 or so centimetres, when it can
be easier to locate.
after the beautiful and slender shape of the flower, this
orchid is actually pollinated at night by moths, which are
attracted to the luminous flowers and strong scent.
is found in Ash and Hazel woodland on limestone and in haymeadows.
In the former it can be dormant and non-flowering, reappearing
when coppicing or clearance takes place. In the latter,
"improvement" of meadows has brought about a serious
decline. However, it is easily the most widespread of the
four species on this page, being found all round the county
where the limestone places a ring between the Lake District
fells and the coast.
is typically from the beginning of June; each stem
holds upto 20 flowers, but where growing in some shade the
flower spike is generally more sparse.
its larger namesake, this species is pollinated at night
by moths. It is distinguished by the two pollinia
being parallel, whereas the Greater Butterfly Orchid
has the pollinia converging together from base to tip
until they almost touch.
is found in more acidic habitats, in both grassland
and bogs. In Cumbria it generally occurs in boggy ground
in scattered populations throughout the county, although
it is sparsely represented in the west and south west.
is typically a couple of weeks later than for Greater
Butterfly Orchid, often the last two weeks of June;
each stem holds fewer, generally smaller flowers, than