Rare orchid found in Audlem

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Only weeks after the amazing re-discovery in Britain of the Eurasian Ghost Orchid (Epipogium aphyllum) — see The Independent newspaper report on 19th March — comes even more exiting news for botanists.

While testing soil on the proposed Audlem allotments' site in Paddock Lane, experts have found the even rarer Transparent Orchid (Epipogium perlucidum.)

What is remarkable is that it is virtually impossible to see, as its name suggests. It's also extremely fragile and is only found by treading on it, which immediately kills it — hence its rarity. It was only because some plants were unearthed during the soil testing process that the elusive orchids were detected.

Botanists say that to find two such rare species of orchid in just over a fortnight is beyond their wildest dreams.

Thought extinctThe Independent said of the Ghost Orchid: "After an absence of 23 years, during which it was declared extinct, this pale, diminutive flower, the most enigmatic of all Britain's wild plants, re-materialised last autumn in an oak wood in Herefordshire.

"Its sighting, initially kept a close secret, has electrified the British botanical community. Forget your black tulip. This has been British botany's holy grail, searched for annually and ardently by a small army of enthusiasts for more than two decades, but never found."

How those same enthusiasts will react to the discovery of the possibly rarer Transparent Orchid in Audlem is as yet unclear as the news is only just emerging today.

The discovery may, however, cause some difficulties for the proposed allotment plans. Rare orchids have a habit of turning up on potential development sites. Audlem Parish Council is about to start a public consultation exercise on the allotment plans, following the Extraordinary meeting on 22nd March.

Asked about the transparent orchid's discovery, a PC spokesperson said: "This is an added complication but it will have the benefit of bringing some transparency to our deliberations."

If enough examples of the orchid can be found, it's hoped the Flower Company in Audlem will be able to sell them, ideally presented in transparent wrapping.


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