Home » Mystery wild orchid finally identified at Tregaron nature reserve
Ceredigion Community Community Mid Wales National News

Mystery wild orchid finally identified at Tregaron nature reserve

After baffling both owners and experts for three years, an orchid at a nature reserve and glamping site near Tregaron has finally been identified.

It has been named by the Ceredigion Plant Recorder for the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland as the subspecies ericetorum of the heath spotted orchid. Last summer over 1300 flowering heads of the orchid were counted at the site – appropriately named Orchid Meadows – during a field day mounted by Lampeter Permaculture Group.

Dactylorhiza maculata ssp. ericetorum, to give it its full scientific name, is a variant of the heath spotted orchid confined entirely to wet, acid soils along the western side of Britain, particularly West Wales. Orchid Meadows owner Steve Hounsham said: “It is a pleasure to have so many of this stunning wild orchid in our meadows and a relief that we can at last put a name to it! From mid-June, for about a month, its bright pink, purple and white flowers transform the fields here spectacularly. It’s a particular treat for guests staying in our cottage, yurt and glampavan.”

Steve Chambers, Plant Recorder for Ceredigion for the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland, says: “This orchid is entirely absent from the modern agricultural landscape and is found only in traditional rhos pasture grasslands. These are now a scarce habitat, so it is heartening to hear of places being cared for properly. Interestingly, a case has been made by the orchid taxonomic expert Pierre Delforge for recognising the British subspecies ericetorum as a species in its own right.”     

Orchid Meadows also has smaller population of two other orchids: lesser butterfly orchid and broad-leaved helleborine. Last summer a single specimen of whorled caraway was also found. Although it is the county emblem of Carmarthenshire, it is rarely found outside there.