Orchids

Bluebell Wood has among its rich flora 5 species of orchids. Of these, 4 are seen every spring, although some are harder to spot than others. The fifth is only known at present to be found in one area of the woodland and it was seen some 5 years ago when the area was last coppiced. For more information on each of the orchids use the links bellow.

These five Species are:

Birds nest ( Neottia nidus-avis )
Common spotted ( Dactylorhiza fuchsii )
Early purple ( Orchis mascula )
Twayblade ( Listera ovata )
Greater Butterfly (Platanthera chlorantha)

Common Spotted Orchid ( Dactylorhiza fuchsii )

Common spotted orchidThis is the most common of the Great British orchids.

  • Height: Ranges from 5-60cm (commonly 20-40cm)
  • Flower colour: This can vary from purple through pink to white with purple edges. The lip has three lobes.
  • Flowers: June-August.
  • Leaves: Narrow lanceolate, keeled, often dark-spotted.
  • Distribution: Widespread throughout England, Wales and Ireland. In Scotland it is mainly in the south and west.
  • Habitat: Found in a diverse range of habitats including open woodland, hedgerows, permanent pasture, roadside banks and marshy areas, although it will also grow in other undisturbed habitats.

Although we have a small number of common spotted orchids in the woodland its current distribution has been limited by the lack of management in many parts of the woodland. As work is carried out to coppice more of the woodland it is hoped that its flowering distribution will increase.

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Birds Nest Orchid ( Neottia nidus-avis )Birds nest orchid

Probably one of the stranger of the woodland species it has no chlorophyll which is what makes most plants look green. This is one of the saprophyte orchids, which means that it live of decayed vegetation and other plants.

  • Height: Up to 35 cm
  • Flower colour: Yellowish brown or gray-brown
  • Flowers: May – July
  • Leaves: scale like sheaths covering the stem, which overlap one another
  • Distribution: locally common throughout the British Isles
  • Habitat: Beech and other dark deciduous woodland

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Early Purple or Spotted Purple Orchid ( Orchis mascula )

Early purple orchidThe first of the orchids to flower every year it gives impressive displays in the spring.

  • Height: 10-60cm
  • Flower colour: most commonly deep purple but occasionally pinkish with rare white forms (we have in one area white forms of this orchid)
  • Flowers: April -June
  • Leaves: shiny oblong leaves commonly with spots, similar to the common spotted orchid
  • Distribution: Locally common throughout Britain
  • Habitat: Woodland including oak and beech, scrub, grassland and roadside verges on non-acid soils

Twayblade ( Listera ovata )Twayblade

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One of the more overlooked orchids, it is all green from the leaves and stem to the flower.

  • Height: Up to 45 cm
  • Flower colour: Yellowish-green
  • Flowers: May-July
  • Leaves: Two large green shiny leave growing opposite sides of the stem, hence the name tway or two
  • Distribution: common throughout Britain and Ireland
  • Habitat: Woodland and marshes

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question mark in place ofGreater ButterflyGreater Butterfly Orchid (Platanthera chlorantha)

  • Height: 30cm
  • Flower colour: White
  • Flowers: May – July
  • Leaves: Two glossy leaves folded around the base of the stem
  • Distribution: Throughout Britain
  • Habitat: Damp woods, scrub, heath and meadows, especially on alkaline soils.

Much of the information about the orchids has been gleaned from the following site all pictures ©K J Westcott