ktmartin's picture

An orchid?

Observed: 31st July 2011 By: ktmartinktmartin’s reputation in Plantsktmartin’s reputation in Plantsktmartin’s reputation in Plants
An orchid?

Approx 25cm tall and a single spike. No leaves were seen. Couldn't tell if this is a common orchid that was passed its best, or something really special.

Species interactions

No interactions present.


Syrphus's picture

It is an orchid in fruit,

It is an orchid in fruit, Katy. Probably one of Dactylorhiza purpurella or maculata.

The fruits open and close depending on humidity. When open, the minute seeds, which have no food store, are dispersed by wind. They will only germinate once infected by a soil fungus, at which point the orchid embryo uses the fungus as a food source until it gets its green leaves. Yes - every orchid starts life as a parasite on fungi, and some never stop!

If that ain't really special, I don't know what is.



recording wildlife with The Recorder's Year on www.hbrg.org.uk/TRY.html.

sevenoysters's picture

Bird's-nest Orchid, Neottia nidus-avis

This is almost certainly the flower spike of a Bird's-nest Orchid after flowering. ( so called because its root formation ). The flower spike of this orchid dries and becomes 'woody' after flowering and it will remain until the following season or even longer. It is usually found in the more shaded parts of woodland. The view here seems to be more open which is less common but can occur.
When in flower the whole orchid is a honey-brown colour and relies entirely on a fungus for its nutrition.
If you return to the site the old spike should still be there and within a few feet of it you will probably find this year's orchid appearing. I'm not sure when the season is in Inverness but probably from about 8 weeks before your photo, onwards, should catch it. Very difficult to spot and danger of treading on them. A very good find.