The Fantastic Mr. Frog

Some plant names are simply quite dull; others applied for good reason while some are purely fanciful.

“Common Spotted Orchid” does not evoke images of anything especially beautiful or even interesting. “Early Purple Orchid” is, likewise, an uninspiring title. Other names are functionally descriptive: “Early Marsh Orchid”, “Western Marsh Orchid” or “Northern Marsh Orchid” come to mind. The Bee Orchid and the Fly orchid are named for their appearance – both resemble the insects and have evolved to attract these insects which act as aids to pollination. The Butterfly Orchid might, with a little stretch of the imagination, be said to resemble a butterfly and moths and butterflies do attend the flowers for its nectar reward and, in the process, aid pollination. However, the naming of the Frog Orchid must surely be credited to somebody who can see things the rest of us strain to even imagine.

Dactylorhiza fuchsii Common Spotted Orchid (40)
The Common Spotted Orchid – a common name but a very attractive flower.
Orchis mascula Early Purple Orchid (6)
The Early Purple Orchid which is early and purple…except when it is pink or white!
Ophrys apifera Bee Orchid  (29).jpg
The Bee Orchid which resembles a bee, emits a fragrance which attracts bees but, truth be told, doesn’t need the bees to do the business at all. 
Ophrys insectifera Fly Orchid (7)
The Fly Orchid which attracts flies to aid in pollination

Frogs play no part, that I have ever heard of, in the pollination of orchids; nor do they visit the flowers for food but it is said that the name was applied because the flower resembles a frog in mid-leap. Though I have looked at the flowers with the greatest sympathy to the sensitivities of the persons who named the plant, and have pored over photographs, I feel it was a leap too far. Certainly, for me, it requires a stretch of the imagination which is beyond me. Nonetheless, it is an interesting plant, quite uncommon, and it is special to find one.

Dactylorhiza viridis Frog Orchid (15)
The Frog Orchid – a small plant, easily missed among the grasses and other plants but an interesting one to find
Dactylorhiza viridis Frog Orchid (9)
The flower at the top left is what is an example of what is called the “frog”. With some imagination, this shows a frog jumping to the left with legs trailing behind! Hmmmm!
Dactylorhiza viridis Frog Orchid (17)
Ribbit! Ribbit!

2 thoughts on “The Fantastic Mr. Frog

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