Wednesday, 19 June 2013

It's.... Orchid Time!

For those of you who don't share the Diary's annual rush of enthusiasm for the wild orchids of the west Highlands, sorry, it's time to look away.
With the late spring we've had, one would have expected the orchids to be equally slow in appearing but, if anything, they're early.  An unexpected first went to a newly-discovered group of stunning purple northern marsh orchids found near Mingary Pier which were flowering in early May (see post here), followed by other varieties at Sanna (post here).  This northern marsh orchid is one of a number at present in flower amid the grasses below The Ferry Stores.

Orchids are terribly difficult to identify with any certainty, a difficulty which is exacerbated by their habit of hybridising, but this may be an early marsh orchid.  It was found on the steep brae between the B8007 and the burn which flows out of Loch Mudle.

This is probably a common spotted orchid.  They vary greatly in colour, and can be almost completely white.  This one was flowering beside a boggy puddle in the land to the northeast of Loch Mudle.

In almost the same location was a group of heath spotted orchids.  Since these orchids have stems about 6" high, they struggle to show through the grass and heather which covers so much of West Ardnamurchan.  Fortunately, the local sheep don't seem to eat them, so they do well in the occasional clearings amid the heather.

'Don't know' is the identification for this one.  It may be an early marsh, or it may be something quite new.  But.... does it really matter when these plants are wild, free-to-view, and just so, so beautiful?

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