Orchid Counts


The first two Southern Marsh Orchids were planted on Brook Meadow on June 17, 2007. They were donated by orchid expert Nigel Johnson who had grown them in pots from originals collected from the colony on South Moor at Langstone. Nigel said the plants would seed themselves and would multiply over time and he was right!
Here are the first two that were planted.

This is how the flowers now appear, quite handsome plants

As shown in the following chart, Southern Marsh Orchids steadily increased in numbers from the 2 that were originally planted in 2007 to 36 in 2017.  As shown in the following chart, orchid numbers have significantly increased over the past 3 years to a total of 174 in 2020 .  However, the numbers are modest in comparison with other local sites, such as, Fishbourne Meadows which boasts around 500 and South Moor, Langstone which has several thousand.

Common Spotted Orchids tend to be pale, though some are dark and not easy to distinguish from Southern Marsh Orchids.  Their spotted leaves are the best way of identification.  n.  Here is a particularly fine specimen with nicely marked petals. Common Spotted Orchids were first seen on Brook Meadow in 2007 but showed very little change in numbers until 2017 following the planting of 10 new plants. However, the increase in counts in 2017, 2018 and 2019 are probably due to Hybrid orchids being counted as Common Spotted.

Southern Marsh x Common Spotted hybrid orchids – Dactylorhiza x grandis. We are grateful to Martin Rand (BSBI Recorder for South Hants) for checking our orchid counts which have overlooked hybrids between the Southern Marsh and the Common Spotted Orchids – called Dactylorhiza x grandis.  Martin says these hybrids can be quite common wherever there is a good population of the parents, as on Brook Meadow. Martin points out that the two orchids showed in the photo  below – which were labelled Common Spotted Orchids certainly have spotted leaves, but the flowers were more like those of Southern Marsh Orchids.

It seems likely that the increase in Common Spotted Orchid counts from 2017 can be attributed to the growth of hybrid orchid numbers. The hybrids are larger and sturdier than the parent plants which makes them easier to pick out.  This is a shot of one of the bigger hybrid orchids.

To take account of this I have revised the chart for Common Spotted Orchid counts, assuming a steady number of 7 plants from 2017-2019.
Here is a new chart for the hybrid orchids starting in 2017.

Bee Orchid counts vary from one year to the next, party due the growth of surrounding vegetation which makes them extremely difficult to find.  The plants are also small and have pale petals.  However each spike usually has several flowers, like this example.
As shown in the following chart, 2016-2018 were poor years, though grasses and other vegetation was very dense.  Counts improved in 2019 and 2020.  In 2020 –  17 flowers were found on the Lumley area and centre meadow with 12 on the main orchid area in the north meadow.

In 2020 we found two Pyramidal Orchids – one on the main orchid area for the second year running and a new one of the Lumley area.  Let’s hope they increase in numbers.  They tend to flower a bit later than the other orchids and are generally much brighter.

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