Green-winged orchid (Anacamptis morio)
The green winged orchid (Anacamptis morio) is a short orchid of unimproved hay meadows, pastures, coastal grassland and open woodland. It grows in base-rich alkaline soils and prefers sunny conditions. It flowers in May or June and the flower spike carries a cluster of pink to purple flowers (sometimes white) with distinctive green lines on the outer tepals that give this orchid its name.
The green-winged orchid has a range stretching across Eurasia from the UK in the west to Iran in the east. In the UK it is most commonly found in central and southern England and throughout Wales. It has declined dramatically in the last 50 years and the current geographic range in the UK has contracted by 60% compared to its historical range. These losses have been particularly acute in southern, central and eastern England and the species is categorized as vulnerable in The Vascular Plant Red Data List for Great Britain and the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. BSBI records show 46 entries for green-winged orchid in the Morecambe Bay area since 2010.
Reasons for Decline
Green-winged orchid populations have declined as a result of agricultural intensification during the second half of the twentieth century and the associated loss of hay meadows and unimproved grassland habitats. Orchid seeds contain too little energy in the form of food reserves to germinate on their own and form a symbiotic relationship with mycorrhizal fungi to grow. The loss of these fungi through the application of artificial fertilisers and herbicides has largely restricted this orchid to unimproved grasslands.
The aim to reinforce populations of this spectacular and rapidly declining species has attracted widespread support from the community as well as local stakeholder groups including the Cumbria Wildlife Trust, Natural England and the National Trust. BOOM will be working closely with Kew Gardens, through Dr Sarasan Viswambharan who will be performing isolation work of symbiotic fungi before propagating seedlings which will be translocated through the BOOM project. Community volunteers will be involved in population monitoring at donor and recipient sites, and local growers and landowners will be offered specific training in orchid cultivation methods and habitat management to sustain viable populations beyond the term of the BOOM project.