Normally, rushing by in cars unobtrusive plants, like Man Orchids, don't get seen, but Phil Chantler, being a green commuter, between Shepherdswell and St Margaret's on his bike noticed this small colony near to Coldred. I did feel a bit vulnerable, sitting in the road photographing them, but it was the best angle and light. I got a few funny looks form drivers as they went by though!
Man Orchid (Aceras anthropophorum) now sometimes re-named: Orchis anthropophora
The English name of Man Orchid is strangely apt as the flowers form a very man like miniature figure. The sepals and petals form a hood and conceal the face and the lip is deeply lobed to form the arms and the legs.
Although it is fairly wides spread in Southern England, out side Kent and Surrey it is a rare plant. It is typically found on well drained grassland on Chalk or Limestone often on or at the base of a slope, such as in a quarry or a roadside bank. It is very vulnerable as sites are being lost to road improvement or grassland going under the plough. It is normally in flower from early May to late June.
Unlike Phil who is an excellent botanist and plant finder I am one of those people who normally just can't remember plants. A small path led to the top of the bank and I climbed up to see if the Man Orchid colony continued at the top. There, at the edge of a wood I found another species of Orchid, with a few spikes of White Helleborine.
White Helleborine (Cephalanthera damasonium)It has recently been found to have a special relationship with nearby trees, extracting nutrients from them via a mutual fungal "partner". They normally flower from Mid-May to late June.
It is a relatively common Orchid in Beech Woods in Southeast England and is in fact one of the few flowering plants regularly found under a dense canopy of Beech.