Orton Cumbria

The Orchids of Orton

Contributor: Judy Dunford

Orton has a wealth of wild orchids growing in the parish. Where they are found they grow in profusion, with many of them cross-breeding to make numerous variations. The smallest of the orchids found in the parish is the Frog Orchid. It is only three to four inches tall and very difficult to spot as it looks much like the grass it grows amongst. The orchid found least often is the Butterfly Orchid. There are only a few specimens and they do not appear each year. The Heath Spotted Orchid is only found occasionally as well.

Orchids of Orton Orchids of Orton
Orchids of Orton Orchids of Orton

The first orchids of the year are the Early Purple Orchids which come into flower at the end of April most years. They are followed by the Northern Marsh Orchids early in June, which can be seen as a mass of purple on the verges. A couple of weeks later the Common Spotted Orchids and Early Marsh Orchids come into flower. Northern Marsh Orchids cross readily with Common Spotted Orchids to produce a plant much bigger than the parents.

Orchids of Orton Orchids of Orton
Orchids of Orton

The Frog Orchids and the first Fragrant Orchids come into flower in the middle of June, whilst the others are still in flower. A second flowering of Common Spotted Orchids occurs at the end of June and a second flowering of Fragrant Orchids occurs from mid July and lasts well into August most years. The second flowering of Fragrant Orchids are very strongly scented and can often be smelled when the air is warm and still before they can be seen. The Common Twayblade is a member of the orchid family in spite of the fact that it does not look much like the other orchids.

Orchids of Orton

Orchids of Orton

People visiting the parish to see the orchids are always amazed by the number of them, saying they get excited in other places if they find one or two flowers in a season. Orchids are very fussy about disturbance of their growing areas and very quickly die out if their habitat is not respected. Riding trail bikes or horses where they grow soon destroys them as does people regularly parking cars on their growing areas. Cutting grass before the seeds are ripe also has an adverse effect on their survival.

Orchids of Orton Orchids of Orton