Tuesday 2 June 2015

Suburban orchids in Cambridge

White Helleborine
Image: M. Frisch
Monica Frisch, one of our most active Cambridge botanists, has been in touch to tell us about a rare orchid which has become established in surprising surroundings:

"A recreation ground in the suburbs of southern Cambridge does not seem a likely spot for a rare orchid. But White Helleborine Cephalanthera damasonium seems to like it. 

Growing by the recreation ground
Image: M. Frisch
There are hundreds of plants, large and small, flowering and not, along the railings by the recreation ground in Nightingale Avenue and under the beech trees near the children's play area. 

"It is not clear when White Helleborine first appeared in this location but it has certainly been there for the last few years and doing very well.

Close-up of White Helleborine
Image: M. Frisch
"White Helleborine has long been known – since 1903 – from the Beechwoods on Worts Causeway, a bit over a kilometre to the south-east. 

There are also records in the catalogue of Cambridgeshire Flora Records since 1538 compiled by Gigi Crompton from a few locations nearby.

"Last year the species was found on the other side of Cambridge, near a college entrance on Storey's Way, about five kilometres north-west of the Beechwoods, and I believe it is cropping up elsewhere so seems to like Cambridge!"

Many thanks to Monica for telling us about White Helleborine in Cambridge. 

If you know of any plants which have chosen a surprising location in which to set up home, please let us know

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