Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Lizard Orchids in the garden

Having just bought a mower suitable to cope with the extent of the garden, and looking forward to bringing the pelouse under some level of control, we now find that our lawn is host to a collection of lizard orchids.

Initially we spotted one or two of them after an hour or so going over the area with a fine tooth comb we discovered the extent of our find: some forty or so rosettes. Half of these were on the verge outside the garden and the rest within the garden itself. 

Whilst these are not a protected species it will obviously mean we will not be mowing over them until they have finished flowering, so each plant was marked with a yellow plant-label.

The lizard orchid, or Himantoglossum hircinum from the Latin hircus meaning a he-goat, starts life as a rosette of leaves (see above) but grows up to 90 - 110 cm tall. The flower is said to smell a little bit like a wet animal - the books say it smells of goats which probably makes sense if the scientific name means anything.

photos courtesy of Wild about Britain
Back in England we have seen plenty of orchids but usually of the Early Marsh or Northern Marsh variety. We've not seen these before so it will be interesting to watch them develop over the coming months.

p.s. Incidentally, after finding these today Colin also saw the first of this year's small lizards sunning itself on the garden wall!

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