About 160 specimens of Irish lady’s tresses have been discovered by RSPB volunteers Gill and Richard Watts on the island of Oronsay.
Mrs Watts said: “They’re amazingly beautiful flowers, with a musky vanilla fragrance. We didn’t quite believe what we’d found at first, because we know they’re so rare.”
Oronsay, a tidal island just off Colonsay, is an RSPB Scotland nature reserve, popular with choughs and corncrakes.
Irish lady’s tresses, named for its resemblance to plaited hair, is seen at very few sites in the UK.
Little is known about its reproductive habits, but in this case the rare orchid is believed to have been lying dormant underground for many years, waiting for the right conditions in which to flower.
The year 2013 has been an exceptional one for orchids, according to Deborah Long of the conservation charity Plantlife. And what is more exceptional than a new site for the very rare Irish lady’s-tresses orchid?
She said the discovery of a new population on an RSPB reserve “inspires hope for the future of the species”.
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