Orchids - Western Isles Wildflowers

Orchids - Western Isles Wildflowers

Orchids of The Hebrides
Here in The Western Isles, we are so fortunate to see the lovely orchids displaying sometimes en mass, just interwoven in the machairs.

7 Orchid Types
There are around seven different species of Orchids that can be seen, some of which can readily be seen throughout the spring and summer months and others which are seen only rarely.

Heath Spotted Orchids
The heath spotted orchid is specific to the western isles. The heath orchid is similar to the hebridean spotted orchid, its quite difficult to tell them apart.

The heath orchid flowers March to August & does have a slight scent and is often a very pale pinky colour almost mauve or a light purple colour.....
Heath Spotted Orchids


Hebridean Spotted Orchids
These pretty orchids are a sub species of the Spotted Orchids which are found elsewhere in the UK and are only to be found here in The Western Isles.

This pretty wild flower the hebridean spotted orchid just grows wild usually on machair's or dunes or damp meadows that are near to the sea. ...

.. Hebridean Spotted Orchids

Root Capable of Sprouting New Plants
Orchids all have either a root capable of sprouting a new plant (tuberous stock) or the base of the stem is swollen into a bulb-like growth.

Folklore - The Greeks
The ancient Greeks gave this flowers family its name. The word orkhis means testicle. They’re named this because of the shape of their bulbous roots. In classical mythology, Orchis, the son of a satyr and a nymph, was turned into a flower after his death.

In his Materia Medica, the first century A.D. Greek physician Dioscorides hypothesized that orchids influenced sexuality. Ever since, people have associated the plant with virility, fertility, sex determination, and other aspects of reproduction, inspired perhaps by the exotic appearance, fragrance, and frankly erotic aspect of its flower’s sexual parts.

Sex Their Unborn Babies
It was said that in Ancient Greece, parents believed they could control the sex of their unborn children with orchid roots. If the father ate large, new tubers, the child would be male; if the mother ate small tubers, the child would be female

The Chinese and Orchids
The ancient Chinese were one of the first people to use orchids as medicine, and some of the earliest paintings of orchids can be found on the oldest of Chinese vases.

Vanilla Flavouring From Orchids
Today, one of our most popular flavourings Vanilla is derived from the seed pods of orchids.

Costa Rica - Orchid - National Flower.
The orchid the "Guaria Morada" is the Nation flower of Costa Rica. This orchid species gets nutrients from the air, rain, dust and resides stored around the bases of trees. The flower is associated with the beauty of Costa Rican ladies and this orchid is said to bring unions, family understanding, peace and love and hope for the future.

Largest Orchid in The World - 20 metres tall
The largest orchid in the world can grow up to 20 metres tall. It is called Grammatophyllum speciosum and can weigh up to 2000pound / 900 kilograms. It can produce up to 10,000 flowers on a mature plant.The species is found in Malaysia, the Solomon Islands, Sumatra, the Philippines, Papua and New Guinea.

No Blue Coloured Orchid
Orchids come in many different colours, including green and even black.The one colour you’ll never see an orchid in is blue.

New Orchid Species
New species of orchids are still being discovered each year. In fact, between 200 and 300 new types are found annually.

Click pictures below for larger photographs
Northern Marsh Orchids
The intense colours of the Northern Marsh Orchid, can be anything from a deep purple to magenta or deep pink make it just a stunning wildflower.

A really beautiful purple orchid, the northern marsh orchid. A robust plant 10-35cm tall, with four to six broad green pointed stem leaves....
Nprthern Marsh Orchids


Lesser Butterfly Orchid  Western Isles
Early Marsh Orchid - Luskentyre

Early Marsh Orchid
This lovely orchid - the early marsh orchid seen in the western isles is sometimes called the 'meadow orchid' is really beautiful.

The Early Marsh-Orchid (Dactylorhiza incarnata) is very variable in the colour of the flowers, but the shape of the lip is very distinctive and unique to the species....
Early Marsh Orchid

Pink Wildflowers - Bell Heather at Carloway
Main Types of Orchids in The Western Isles
The main orchids which you will see are the Hebridean Spotted Orchid, the Heath Spotted Orchid, The Northern Marsh Orchid and the Early Marsh Orchid and many of these orchids often hybridise which results in crosses of the different species. A little more scarce are the The Broad Leafed Orchid, with the Western Marsh Orchid which has only been seen on North Uist and the Lapland Marsh Orchid which has only been seen on The Isle of Harris.

No Spotted or Common Spotted Orchids - Sub Species
The Spotted Orchids that can be seen elsewhere in the UK, we don't get here in the Western Isles, we have the sub species the Hebridean Spotted Orchid and likewise for the Common Spotted Orchids, which aren't seen here, it is the sub species, the Heath Orchid that we see here in The Hebrides.

White and Green Orchids
There are also some really pretty pale orchids, from pale Yellow through to the white and green orchids. The Great Butterfly Orchid and the Lesser Butterfly Orchid aren't seen quite as often and there are also orchids like the Common and Lesser Tayblade, the Frog Orchid and the Bog Orchid.

Fragrant Orchid - Lady Tresses Orchid
A little more rarely seen orchids are the Fragrant Orchid and Lady Tresses Orchid, the orchid which you will be lucky to see and then probably only on Vatersay, Benbecula or Barra.

I have managed to spot some of the more common orchids along with the Lesser Butterfly Orchid and have created detail pages for these orchids. I am hoping that as time goes on I will see many more and detail these as and when. Should you find that I have documented any flowers, incorrectly or wrongly identified any, I will be pleased if you could email chris@gcwweb.com and I will endeavour to correct. I am a novice in flower identification and am learning as I go along. Any information will be great fully received
Hebridean Spotted Orchid - Isle of Lewis
Heath Spotted Orchid - Hebridean Wildflowers
Northern Marsh Orchid - Hebrides Wildflowers

Lesser Butterfly Orchids
Although in decline and a little rare than some of the other orchids, the Lesser Butterfly orchids can be seen here in The Western Isles.

These orchids show their heads occasionally in The Isle of Harris. The stems reach up to 10 inches in height although the one pictured above was actually only about 6 inches high.
Lesser Butterfly Orchids

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