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Lindsay's Flora Blog - 3rd August

Posted: Sunday 2nd August 2020 by trustadmin

Autumn Lady’s-tresses Spiranthes spiralis

This is Alderney’s latest and smallest orchid. its flowering time can vary from one year to the next but it usually flowers from early August to the end of September and I found this one along the Picterre on Saturday 1st August. This native orchid can also occur in vast numbers one year and then virtually disappear for several years before reappearing in even greater numbers than before.

The individual white blooms grow in spikes in a near-perfect spiral and are tightly packed against one another around the short stem. The spiral is made of a straight, single row of flowers, fragrant and green-centered within, the lower ones being the first to flower.

It’s a very small plant, however, (it grows up to about 20cm) and it can take quite a time to find it even when you have an idea of where to look. It likes to face the sunshine and can be found in short calcareous grassland and dry sand-based turf.

The plant is amber listed and classed as Near-Threatened in the Red Data List of Vascular Plants 2016. It is locally abundant in Alderney, particularly within the Longis Reserve and around Platte Saline and the gardens opposite Braye Common.

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