Long Distance Calling

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Orchid frenzy

Two weeks ago, I was very surprised to find two magnificent clusters of the lizard orchid (Himanthoglossum hircinum, orchis bouc, Bocksriemenzunge) in the meadow by the side of the tramway. Around it there were less spectacular but still very pretty pyramid orchids (Anacamptis pyramidalis) which I had already seen in the area for some years.

Nearby two city workers were mowing and I showed the orchids to one of them, asking him to spare this rarity. Of course, he said, but as I returned some hours later, they had carefully mowed around the Anacamptis and razed the Himanthoglossum.

Oops! This used to be a lizard orchid

As I mentioned this to my colleague Laurent, he pointed out that there were in fact many more of these orchids nearby, within the grounds of the research centre.

In fact, as I went there the next day, there were not only numerous lizard orchid clusters, and Anacamptis, but also some wonderful bee orchids (Ophrys apifera). This time, the persons in charge of lawn-mowing had done a careful job.

Ophrys apifera
Anacamptis pyramidalis
Himanthoglossum hircinum

So I spent some time taking close-ups and enjoying the musty smell of the lizard orchid, which is alluded to in its French and German common names (“goat orchid”, ” goat’s strap-tongue”).

A bug, enjoying itself on Himanthoglossum

Some days later, another colleague, Nathalie, sent me photos of lizard orchids in her garden in the countryside. So, after all it may not be so rare anymore..

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