Norwich resident, Holme devotee
Hi all, I'm off to the New Forest for the first time this weekend. If anyone has some gen they wouldn't mind PMing me, especially about species I won't have seen before (being from Norfolk), I'd really appreciate it.
On the general point of varietal names, I personally think that many of them are worthless. Orchids, perhaps more than any other family of plants in Britain, have attracted the same micro-scrutiny that the Victorians gave butterflies, whereby they named every little mutation and the butterfly collectors then set out to add them to their cabinets. Some orchid varieties are very distinct and worthy of a name (e.g. some of the Bee Orchid vars), and some are of biological interest, or have a big impact of identification (e.g. the various varieties of Green-flowered Helleborine, which may shed light on self-pollination vs cross-pollination). But, if you look hard enough you can find every stage of gradation between an extremely well-marked and richly coloured Heath Spotted Orchid and one with an all-white flower (and see Sean's earlier post on Frog Orchids). I wish now that I had not mentioned var. leucantha!
Sounds like an epigenetic effect is occurring in the flowers development. Basically in the cells producing the pollinia, the gene(s) involved in its pigmentation have been switched off, whereas the cells producing the coloured spots still have active pigmentation pathways. Often methylation of DNA is the root cause.
I'm glad to hear that Simon favours keeping varietal names for distinctive Bee orchids. |=)|
Maybe we should consider reviving var aurita Moggridge. This is supposed to have long green petals that are rolled down at the edges so look narrow.
Although some authorities say this is supposedly common I can't say I see it very often, in fact looking back through all my photos of Bees from various sites I could only find two that appearred to qualify. Short green petals are scarce but long ones seem hard to find. Do others regularly see this form?
Having said that I found what I took to be one locally last week.
Dry Sandford Pit: marsh helleborines in good flower, though still on the way in. Lots of common spots still in good nick. Southern damselfly (best if you have someone knowledgeable to show you one in the hand!)
Aston Rowant, lots of frogs jumping around - i marked 30 or so with sticks to give anyone else going there a head start. Common spots there are distinctly on the way out, but abundant pyramidal looking good.
Interesting! Not sure what I'm seeing but it appears to have white sepals, white sepaloid petals and a lip that is half labellum, half white sepal with some darker blotches on it; is that correct? If so it's pretty aberrant.
It would be good to get a close up, front on photo of the flower to document what is actually going on.
Hi Rich M,
Unfortunately it isn't my photo and I haven't seen said plant - but it is growing at a site with lots of Flavescens (I have posted a photo of one of those #650) so I thought it might be an aberrant one of those.
Ian, given you obviously understand the process by which flowers turn out looking the way they do, I'd be interested in your thoughts as to what gives rise to aberrant flowers on a stem of otherwise normal flowers. I'm not talking about things like pelorism but examples where one flower is just totally aberrant.
I attach an example, albeit a somewhat extreme one; the other two flowers were pretty standard except for the sepaloid petals. I'm now waiting to see what the top bud turns out like!
The site is an old lead mine from Roman times; are pollutants in the soil likely to impact flower development (but why then just one flower, not them all?)