That’s How Vulnerable They Are!

Green-winged orchids are very scarce in Ireland and when a friend told me he had found a site where they were in flower there was an immediate dash to see them. Three of us had a wonderful evening viewing these beautiful plants – along with the Early Purple Orchids and Cowslips which grew in their company.


Anacamptis morio Green Winged Orchid (9)
The very scarce and pretty Green-winged orchid, Anacamptis morio

Anacamptis morio Green Winged Orchid (11)

There were historic records of them flowering at this site but none had been for many, many years so it was a wonderful discovery to find them in flower there again. They are very particular as to where they will thrive. This site matched the conditions we have witnessed elsewhere – a site of unimproved grassland on thin soil above limestone with regular limestone outcrops. All that is required for grassland to be “unimproved” is that it be left alone, without the interference of man through the application of fertilizer or weedkiller.

Orchis mascula Early Purple Orchid (15)
The site showing a population of Early Purple Ochids, Orchis mascula
Primula veris Cowslip
Cowslips, the regular companion plant of the Green-winged orchid.

You can imagine the upset and disappointment of my friend, an enthusiast for our native orchids, native wildflowers, insects, bees, butterflies etc etc, a true lover, carer and defender of all aspects of our native fauna and flora, to return to the site a week later and find it had been sprayed with weedkiller – as evidenced by the cowslips which were in a state of collapse.

Cowslip after weedkiller - from John Fogarty
Cowslips showing the effects of an application of weedkiller – the drooping of the flowers and foliage!

Something of such value can be lost so very easily.




8 thoughts on “That’s How Vulnerable They Are!

    1. It is hard to see what benefit would come from doing it as it is a patch of ground which would seem of little use, rocky etc.


  1. I do hope he let the people who did it know that they have a treasure there that should be protected. Gently! Because not everybody realises how valuable these plants are. I do feel for your friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This kind kind of action is being replicated everywhere … often from pure ignorance. It is so sad. Our heritage under threat

    Liked by 1 person

    1. General awareness of the value of our wildflowers is increasing so we can hope for less and less such incidents


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