Celia Hart's blog about what's going on in and around her studio.
Art, printmaking, inspirations, gardening, vegetables, hens, landscapes, wild flowers, East Anglia, adventure, travel.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

An evening orchid hunt in the SW corner of Suffolk

We've just been on an orchid hunt . . .

The first one we spied was this bright cerise Southern Marsh Orchid, just starting to open.

Next we found some beautiful spires of palest mauve speckled flowers of the Common Spotted Orchid

And on our return route we found some lovely tall stems of the Pyramidal Orchid just coming into flower.

And nearby I was thrilled to find lots of gorgeous Bee Orchids.

Close up you can see the bee-like lower petal.

Then I spotted . . . not another orchid but a Broomrape, possibly Common Broomrape, but after consulting 'A Flora of Suffolk' I found there are many species and sub-species each specific to a different host plant and particular habitat - Broomrapes are parasitic. Amazingly a Broomrape seed can seek out and attach itself to particular species of plant's root and when it detects it has found the right host, it germinates and plugs itself into the host plant's vascular system and grows a flowering stem.

This is where we were orchid hunting . . . it isn't a nature reserve, it's the 'flood-park' on the edge of Haverhill opposite a supermarket and a DIY store. The lake and marshy meadow surrounded by high embankments is a safety-valve allowing the swollen waters of the Stour Brook to be diverted by sluices and prevent flooding in the town centre.

It's worth looking for wildflowers wherever you are . . . you never know what you may find.



  1. Very nice Celia, looks like your orchid hunting has been productive. So many beautiful ones, almost hard to believe they are native or endemic here.

  2. I am amazed at this post I have never seen broomrape. I have never seen a bee orchid. I am deeply wildly envious. and I am also inspired. I will get back out and look again!

    1. By all reports this June is a great month for our wild orchids - and I would think Sussex would be a fantastic location. Check your local Wildlife Trust web site for ideas of where to hunt for them.

  3. Beautiful! I've just been given a tour of my neighbour's meadow which is literally smothered with pyramidal orchids... plus a handful of bee orchids

  4. Celia, what treasures you all discovered on this orchid hunt. It's fantastic to also learn the actual site of the hunt.

    I am so delighted to have you as my guide to all sorts of previously-unknown-to-me plants and flowers. The bee orchid and the broomrape are prime examples.

    Thank you and thank you again! xo

  5. Such wonderful flowers! And what an interesting find the broomrape is.I have been out picking horsetail for the dye pot.

  6. Wow! What wonderful flowers and growing under our noses! That bee orchid is spectacular.

  7. What a rewarding walk! Great to see the different orchids and I don't think I've seen Broomrape- naughty plant!


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