Sixty Waitrose dairy farmers, who are members of the pioneering wildlife habitat scheme called WildCare, will be on the look out for native orchids this summer, in a bid to compile the project’s first official records for these wildflowers.
Bee Orchids fool amorous male bees
into helping them cross pollinate.
Wildlife expert Tim Oliver, who manages the WildCare scheme on behalf of AB Sustain, the sustainable supply chain solutions business, says:
“There are more than 50 species of wild orchid native to the British Isles. Many are rare, but many are just never spotted because they are small and blend in so well with their surroundings.
“Orchids are some of the most iconic flowers of the British countryside and deserve to be preserved. They are most likely to be found where land has been left undisturbed and where the surrounding vegetation is not too vigorous. Fertilisers and herbicide sprays kill them.”
The species the farmers will be looking out for include:
Bee Orchid, which relies on fooling amorous male bees into helping it to cross pollinate
Autumn Lady’s Tresses Orchid, which is the last to flower and often remains undetected in areas where the grass is cut for hay, as it never has a chance to bloom, and
Burnt Orchid, whose flowers look like tiny people wearing pink spotted pyjamas!
“It will be very interesting to see how many orchids the Waitrose dairy farmers find this summer,” says Mr Oliver. “We have published a colour booklet to help them do this. If they find some they can’t identify – they can take a photo and send it to us by email and we will name it for them.”
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