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This wild Pyramidal Orchid was photographed on a sandy grass verge, by the road side near the airstrip on Inishmore, the largest of the Aran Islands in Galway Bay, Ireland.
The dense slightly pointy head is typical of this type of wild orchid. As was the location. It is typically found on coastal paths, sandhills and other sandy grassland particularly in lime-rich soils.
Botanical name: ”Anacamptis pyramidalis“.
Wild orchids depend on a special relationship between their roots and certain fungi. (The particular fungus varies with the type of orchid.)
It is thought that the mycelium (thread-like growths through the soil) of the fungus provide nutrients to the tiny orchid seeds. Without the fungus in the soil, the orchid seed will not germinate. Some orchids require the presence of the mycelium throughout their lives some need it only at the time of seed germination.
The mycelium of fungi tend to colonise an area of soil. If they come up against another fungus of the same species they will merge into a single organism. If they come to territory of another species of fungus they will repel each other.
An orchid can produce thousands of tiny seeds, they blow on the wind – but a seed will only germinate if it lands on soil with the appropriate fungus. Hence ground that looks to the human eye like a suitable habitat might have no orchids while a patch nearby may have a huge number.
This is also why there is no point in digging up an orchid to transplant it – unless you also bring a ton or two of the surrounding soil, with it’s mycelium intact, the orchid will wither and die in the new location.
This version is intended for cards and other 7×5 media, it is also available here cropped square for my Wildflower Calendar.
|Wildflower Calendar||Calendar version|
Image Mode: Canon Raw
Lens: EF24-70mm f/2.8L USM zoom (at 70mm),
Camera: Canon 5d MkII
Exposure: f16 1/100