Western Isles Wildflowers
Western Isles wildflowers is a collection of information about our Hebridean wildflowers including identification hints, traditional herbal uses and general plant lore.
White or Green Orchids
These are the white and green orchids of the Western Isles.
These orchids are fairly easy to identify once you know which ones you are likely to see and have a good description or photograph to look at.
The page is a work in progress, hopefullly by the end of summer it will will be filled out with those helpful photographs (bliss) meanwhile here are some brief descriptions to start you on your way, so you know which ones to look up if you think you find one...
White or Green Orchids which grow in the Western Isles
Common Twayblade is frequently found on machair and sometimes on grazing land. (I have only found it on land which is near the sea). Described as up to 18" tall, usually MUCH smaller here. Big wide leaves like a greater plantain, single very skinny flower spike of greenish flowers.) A common find.
Lesser Twayblade is described as being found on "damp moss under heather", it also grows on machair grassland alongside the common twayblade. 6 - 8" tall wide leaves like a greater plantain, single very skinny flower spike of greenish flowers.) A common find.
Frog orchid is found alongside the more colourful orchids on the machair. It is very green at first and easily missed. It is 3 - 8" tall, and goes greenish-brown or pinkish-brown as the season progresses. Early in the season it looks a bit like a slim version one of the coloured orchids that has either not properly come into flower yet, or has perhaps finished flowering and is dying back. A common find. (shown here, not quite in flower yet, when it is in full flower there will be long tounges sticking out of those pink flower cases).
See a photograph of a frog orchid in full flower.
Bog orchid (also known as little bog orchid) has green flowers. Only 1 - 4" tall, I found it growing alongside lesser spearwort in a ditch, it likes very wet ground. Single spike of green flowers, single spike. A rare find.
Lesser Butterfly Orchid grows on machair and moorland. It is white, scented and grows to about 10" . It forms loose colonies. The flower spike is not dense, the flowers are quite large with a very long slender spurs which are horizontal adding to the delicate look of the flower spike. Fairly rare find.
Greater Butterfly Orchid (On my wish list to see..) up to 18" tall apparently, probably less here. White scented flowers. Basic soils (somewhere with shell-sand worked in). The only place it grows in the Western Isles is Rodel Glen in South Harris.
Fragrant Orchid (also known as sweet-scented orchid). Single, not dense spike of rose-pink flowers. Fragant and found on machair. Only in Fuday on Barra where it is said to be abundant.
Irish Lady's Tresses has very occasionally been found here, (protected species listed in the Red Book) found on marshy ground, Benbecula, Barra and Vatersay. An unlikely find.