Orchid extravaganza


Orchids are the hidden jewels of our wildflower meadows, and their finest hour comes in the summer months, when their colours erupt across many of The Wildlife Trusts' nature reserves. A new guide from The Wildlife Trusts shares the best sites to see some of these jewels.

Early Purple Orchid (photo: Philip Precey).

There are around 50 species of orchid in the UK, ranging from the Common Spotted Orchid to the extremely rare Military Orchid. Sadly, the hay-meadow habitat on which many rely has declined by 98% since the 1950s; The Wildlife Trusts are working hard to protect those that remain, and many grassland reserves are currently thriving with wildlife.

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Marsh Helleborine (photo: Philip Precey).

The new guide — 40 Places to See Orchids — lists some of The Wildlife Trusts' best reserves for the wildflowers around the UK and is available to download now.

Common Spotted Orchid (photo: Paul Lane).

Paul Wilkinson, head of Living Landscape for The Wildlife Trusts, said: "The Wildlife Trusts have long been the guardians of some of our rarest wild orchids. Durham Wildlife Trust's Bishop Middleham site is arguably the best place in the UK to see Dark Red Helleborine, and Berks Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust's Homefield Wood nature reserve is one of only three sites in the UK where the Military Orchid can be found. Many other reserves are fantastic for seeing a variety of orchid species, all of which are beautiful, and indicators of a healthy grassland environment. We hope our new guide will inspire visits to these reserves, and spark a desire to help protect them through supporting local Wildlife Trusts and their Living Landscape schemes, which aim to restore and recreate declining habitats such as wildflower meadows."

Written by: The Wildlife Trusts