Bee alert and spot an orchid
NATURE is great at keeping secrets and some of them may only be feet away from you as you walk through your local country park.
Take wild flower meadows, for instance.
To many people, they may just look like lots of daisies and buttercups in a field of grass. This is totally unfair on the grass as there are probably loads of varieties of grass and sedge in there but you are also missing out on some wonderful flowers.
My eyes were opened by naturalists working for The Lancashire Wildlife Trust, who were keen to point out one of nature’s most delicate and beautiful plants in a field which I had trodden past for years.
Yes, in among the grass and buttercups there are orchids.
There are many species of orchid found growing in Britain.
They tend to be made up of wonderful purples and pinks with names like the common spotted orchid, heath spotted orchid, early marsh orchid, southern marsh orchid and northern marsh orchid.
Common spotted are certainly widespread in Lancashire and Greater Manchester and can be seen in meadows and nestling in the shade of trees and bushes.
I have also been introduced locally to fly orchids and the wonderful bee orchid, which actually grows on sites where industry once dominated the landscape. On the peat-ravaged moss lands of Salford, restored areas are now home to bee orchids, which is proof that The Wildlife Trust officers and volunteers are doing something right.
The bee orchid is brilliant. It has evolved bee-like flowers, which fool the bees.
Up in Lancaster I was treated last year to a view of one of our rarest species, the lady’s slipper.
These flowers have similar pouches to the bee orchids but are a deeper shade of browny pink.
It is amazing to think that in all of our region there is only one spot where they are known to grow on a regular basis.
It’s not just the bees that are fooled by orchids. Many blooms resemble their name; frog orchids have trailing legs and lady’s tresses wear petticoats.
So when you are out and about look a little closer at the grassy verges and parks and see if you can spot a real wonder of nature.
The Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside is dedicated to the protection of the wildlife in Lancashire, seven boroughs of Greater Manchester and four of Merseyside. It manages around 40 nature reserves and 20 local nature reserves covering acres of woodland, wetland, upland and meadow. The trust has 26,000 members, and more than 1,200 volunteers. To become a member of the trust, go to www. lancswt.org.uk or call 01772 324129.
●● Bee orchid