Category: Wendy's Wanderings 11 July 2013

The latin name for orchids is Orchidaceae which comes from ancient greek (oikhis or testicle) due to the shape of the bulb (Well, they could have said meatball or meatballaceae but maybe they were not invented at that time!).

The largest and oldest family of angiosperms which pertains to a plant that produces seeds within an enclosure or fruit. They are over 80 million years old, so they were being trodden on by the dinosaurs. They are found everywhere except glaciers and dry deserts. Due to their pharmaceutical properties and fragrance they are the ‘pandas of the plant world’ known and used in ancient China 2800 BC in herbal remedies and have been used to treat arthritis, eczema, jaundice, earache, STIs, hepatitis, fractures, malaria, snake bites and as a cooling agent for stings.

The number of orchid species out numbers the amount of mammals by 4:1 and birds by 2:1, it is thought they evolved from the subfamily Vanilloideae or the vanilla pods that cooks use to flavour sugar or more importantly "puddings!'' 99% of orchids have 1 single stamen in the flower, one of the main features of the family. The beautiful ‘bee orchid’ so named because it mimic’s a female bee provides a landing platform attracting the male bee who then pollinates the flower. With the added bonus of the flower smelling like a female bee, the male has no option than to land on her and investigate!! There are many diverse european names such as monkey, birds nest, lizard, military and fly orchid. 100 million years ago the continents started to split taking the orchids seeds with them causing individual species to develop that we see today.

Aceras Anthropophora, Italy

Bee Orchid, Italy

Lizard Orchid, Italy

Lizard Orchid, Italy

Burnt Orchid, Italy

Burnt Orchid, Italy

Common Spotted Orchid, Dorset

Monkey Orchid, Italy

Horseshoe Orchid, Italy

Butterfly Orchid, Dorset

Dark Bee Orchid, Italy

Monkey Orchid, Italy

So why am I telling you all this, because I have enjoyed over the last 7 years finding many species when we walk around the countryside in Umbria. We left this year not knowing when we would visit again and already I miss the guaranteed ‘High’ I get when I find another orchid in a hedgerow or field.

Driving home I thought it would be many moons before I would enjoy this feeling……until we walked beneath the Cerne Abbas Giant on a weekend walk in Dorset……could I believe my eyes? (No, I am not going There!) not one but oodles of pyramidal orchids covering the fields around him….and low and behold whilst cycling around the lanes locally I spy a verge covered in common spotted orchids and dotted in amongst them 3-4 white species I had never seen before, not even in Italy or France….my friend Janie, a gardener, put me straight, it’s rare, it’s a Butterfly orchid.

I am Ecstatic……so now I know that these delights can be found nearer to home….and before visiting Umbria and identifying what we saw there, I did not even notice the orchids here, even after having lived in Dorset for over 17yrs!! It makes me realise how easy it is whilst looking, to not see at all, or knowing what we are looking at whilst seeing, become 2 different things!!

Happy hunting!

Related Tags:  wendy's wanderings |  wendy noton |  blog |  July 2013 |  orchi-mania |  humourous |  behind the scenes |  stories |  humour |  adventures | 
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