A Good Orchid Day

The journey from home to Gortlecka Crossroads, in the heart of The Burren in Co. Clare, takes two hours and forty minutes according to the directions from Google maps and to drive there and back in one day would be a hard day indeed. The offer of travelling part of the way and taking a lift with a friend for the remainder of the journey made it a much more reasonable prospect and was one I accepted very gratefully. As well as sparing me the driving this arrangement had the advantage of giving me good company for the day which makes any day out all the more enjoyable.

Views (5)
The limestone landscape of The Burren

Views (3)

Views (4)

The target orchid for the day was the Dark-red helleborine, one of our rarer orchids which has a very limited range – “confined to limestone pavements of counties Clare and Galway” says Brendan Sayers in his book, Ireland’s Wild Orchids, A Field Guide. It was spotted earlier in the week near Eagle Rock by a fellow enthusiast, word went out and the quest was on!

Epipactis atrorubens Dark-red Helleborine (3)
Dark-red helleborine – Epipactis atrorubens

Epipactis atrorubens Dark-red Helleborine (12)Epipactis atrorubens Dark-red Helleborine (15)Epipactis atrorubens Dark-red Helleborine (1)Epipactis atrorubens Dark-red Helleborine (4)

Epipactis atrorubens Dark-red Helleborine (7)
As you can see, it is a beautiful plant and was well worth the journey to find it.

The directions were good and my companion on the day had been to the spot previously so the Dark-red helleborine was found quickly. We would have been delighted to have found one or two but fortune smiled on us and we located about two dozen with a good number in full flower, ready and posing for the camera. We oohed and aahed and gushed in delight and admiration at the little beauties – yes, such a simple beauty can bring great delight and I hope that sense of delight stays with me forever. Age hasn’t dulled it and I hope it never does.

There were other orchids found on the day – almost all of the Irish orchids grow on The Burren – and a big range of interesting wildflowers also but I will confine myself to the orchids in this selection of photographs. Enjoy!

Anacamptis pyramidalis Pyramidal orchid (2)
Pyramidal orchid – Anacamptis pyramidalis
Anacamptis pyramidalis Pyramidal orchid (3)
Pyramidal orchid – Anacamptis pyramidalis
Dactylorhiza fuchsii Common Spotted Orchid (7)
Common Spotted Orchid – Dactylorhiza fuchsii
Dactylorhiza fuchsii var. okellyi O'Kelly's Spotted Orchid (5)
A specialty of The Burren, a white form of the Common Spotted Orchid, O’Kelly’s orchid – Dactylorhiza fuchsii var. okellyi
Dactylorhiza fuchsii var. okellyi O'Kelly's Spotted Orchid (1)
O’Kelly’s orchid – Dactylorhiza fuchsii var. okellyi
Dactylorhiza maculata subsp. ericetorum Heathspotted-orchid (13)
Heath Spotted Orchid – Dactylorhiza maculata var ericetorum
Dactylorhiza maculata subsp. ericetorum Heathspotted-orchid (11)
Heath Spotted Orchid – Dactylorhiza maculata var ericetorum
Epipactis helleborine Broad-leaved helleborine
Broad-leaved Helleborine – Epipactis helleborine, only just coming into flower, not quite open yet.
Epipactis palustris Marsh Helleborine (2)
Marsh helleborine -Epipactis palustris
Epipactis palustris Marsh Helleborine (4)
Marsh helleborine -Epipactis palustris
Epipactis palustris Marsh Helleborine (6)
Marsh helleborine -Epipactis palustris, one of the prettiest of our native orchids
Neottia ovata Common Twayblade (1)
Common Twayblade – Neottia ovata
Neottia ovata Common Twayblade (3)
Common Twayblade
Gymnadenia conopsea (3)
Common Fragrant Orchid – Gymnadenia conopsea – the fragrance is of cloves, very like the fragrance from garden dianthus.
Gymnadenia conopsea (4)
Common Fragrant Orchid – Gymnadenia conopsea
Gymnadenia conopsea Common Fragrant Orchid (6)
Common Fragrant Orchid – Gymnadenia conopsea, a white form
Gymnadenia densiflora (2)
Dense-flowered Fragrant Orchid – Gymnadenia densiflora
Gymnadenia densiflora (3)
Dense-flowered Fragrant Orchid – Gymnadenia densiflora
Neotinea maculata Dense-flowered orchid in seedhead (1)
Even out of flower and in seed, it is interesting to find the Dense-flowered Orchid – Neotinea maculata. It is such a small thing that it is always a challenge to find it
Ophrys apifera Bee Orchid (2)
Bee orchid – Ophrys apifera, always a favourite!  It is at the end of its season now and this was the only one we found on the day.
Ophrys apifera Bee Orchid (1)
This orchid has evolved to look like and so smell like a bee. This attracts male bees to copulate with it and so shake the pollen onto the stamens and fertilize the flower – though it can alsomanage this without the bee!

 

Ophrys insectifera Fly Orchid (7)
Fly orchid – Ophrys insectifera – another orchid which has evolved to mimic an insect, to attract it to help in fertilization of the flowers.
Ophrys insectifera Fly Orchid (4)
It is a small little thing and can take a while to find.

Ophrys insectifera Fly Orchid (2)

Ophrys insectifera Fly Orchid (10)
My friend’s fingers showing in the photograph to give a sense of scale to help appreciate how small these flowers are.
Platanthera bifolia Lesser Butterfly Orchid (7)
Lesser Butterfly Orchid – Platanthera biflora
Platanthera bifolia Lesser Butterfly Orchid (3)
Notice the long “spurs” to the rear of each flower. These contain a drop of nectar to attract pollinating insects. In this case it has to be one with a very long proboscis which could reach in so far.
Platanthera bifolia Lesser Butterfly Orchid (4)
Lesser Butterfly Orchid

And finally, an odd rock shape on The Burren and the hope that I will be back for a return visit before very long.

Views (1)

Views (2)

Epipactis atrorubens Dark-red Helleborine (7)
A final Dark-red Helleborine – Epipactis atrorubens. Such beauty makes the journey time well worth while!

 

 

 

 

6 thoughts on “A Good Orchid Day

  1. What a very productive trip! Thank you for sharing with us your amazing findings. When I was there It was a bit early for Gymnadenia and Epiapctis species, unfortunatley…maybe next year!
    Gonçalo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, we were very lucky with the timing of our visit. A friend had spotted the Dark-red helleborine in flower earlier in the week and alerted us to it and I think we actually saw more in flower that she did as more had opened in the few days after her visit.

      Like

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