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Of the estimated 25,000 different species of orchid that can be found around the world, 56 are native to Britain and, as some of those 56 are now coming in to bloom, I thought I’d share a couple for this week’s Floral Friday.

Twayblade (Neottia ovata)
First up is the Twayblade I saw growing quite prolifically in the woodland at Merthyr Mawr a couple of weeks ago. It’s one of Britain’s most common species but is often overlooked, perhaps because its yellow-green flowers often blend in with their woodland, scrub or grassland habitats. Twayblade means two leaves, as there usually are just two leaves, from the centre of which sprouts the flower stalk, though, like all living things, there are exceptions to the rule and plants with three to five leaves are sometimes found. The thing that most fascinates me about these orchids is the manikin-shaped flower.

Heath spotted-orchid (Dactylorhiza maculata)
Luckily I was with a group of botanists when I saw my first Heath spotted-orchids last weekend, as they can easily be confused with Common spotted-orchids, though the fact that we were in a damp boggy field at the time was probably also a good species indicator. As the name ‘heath’ implies, this orchid likes to get its feet wet, relishing the sogginess of peaty moors and boggy heaths. As well as being common throughout Europe, this orchid can also be found throughout the British Isles, though it does show a marked preference for northern and western areas. Its gorgeous flowers can be seen from around the middle of May through to mid July.

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