Wild orchids in our garden

Monkey orchid - Orchis simia

The monkey orchid, Orchis simia, is not the same type of orchid as the bee and spider orchids It is not pollinated by monkeys but by fairly ordinary pollinating insects. It gets its name from the shape of the lip (two long legs, two even longer arms and a short tail).

However it is an orchid so there must be a trick somewhere. The visiting insect does get its nectar as a reward, but the nectar is hidden down at the end of a long spur. To get to the nectar, the insect has to force its way down into the flower and - abracadabra - there's a pollinium glued to its head.

Even if the individual flowers are not as striking as the Ophrys species, these pretty spikes of pink flowers are a match for any cultivated bulb.

We only have a few monkey orchids in our garden and they are not very impressive, but monkey orchids are well established on the banks at the side of some of the roads around here. These two photographs were taken fairly close to home.

Click the pictures to show them full size

Early spider orchid - Ophrys sphegodes

Wild orchids in our garden

Lizard orchid - Himantoglossum hircinium

From French cornfield to English garden

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The music is the Chopin Winter Wind Etude Op 25 No11 played by Robert Finley.