Minchinhampton Common has significant populations of a number of orchids. Not all of the orchids reported for Minchinhampton Common are represented here: these are just the ones that we see regularly on Minchinhampton Common - and you are likely to see if you use your eyes. (Other orchids noted in the SSSI citation, such as the Frog Orchid, tend to be difficult to see at the best of times - even when you know you are standing within a few feet of one, and are in any case likely to be rare on our local common. There are other sites where you stand a better chance - but it helps to go with an expert who has already spent hours locating them.) This guide provides a good introduction to the distinguishing features and flowering times of all the orchids you are likely to actually come across, and asks you to help in monitoring their occurrences.
Autumn Ladies Tresses Spiranthes spiralis
As the name suggests these develop in the early autumn (August-October).They can be hard to see until you get your eye in. Since they tend to occur in groups, once you see one, look around and you will probably see a number of others.
We are starting to build up a map of locations where these orchids may be seen at certain times of year. See this map.
Bee Orchid Ophrys apifera
Bee Orchids can be found in a number of locations on Minchinhampton Common in June and July, in small groups or as single plants. In our experience it is difficult to predict where you might come across one. However, they are harder to notice than you might think, given the colouring and shape. I am certain that we walk past examples without registering them. If you do find one, it is worth looking around for other plants that you may have overlooked.
In 2014, however, a dozen or so plants were grouped around the north touchline of the Minchinhampton rugby club practice pitch (which is just where Windmill Road meets the Common). They reappeared in the same area in 2015. We well keep you informed about 2016.
In 2015, we also found a significant group on Rodborough Common, beside one of the paths overlooking the Golden Valley. We had regularly walked the same route in previous years without coming across them - had we overlooked them, or were they just not there?
A few years ago we found a variant of the Bee Orchid growing in our lawn (which creative neglect has turned into a wild-flower meadow). In the view of an GNS plant expert it was a Wasp Orchid, differing mainly in the shape of the "insect", which was longer, narrower and with a slight tail at the bottom. (See the Orchid Gallery for a photograph.)
We have now mapped known locations of bee orchids on 2017 and 2018.
Common Spotted Orchid Dactylorhiza fuchsii
|Peak flowing time is June and they are indeed common on the Common. See this map.|
Early Purple Orchid Orchis mascula
|As its name suggests this is one of the first orchids to appear in April, and it flowers through to June.|
Fragrant Orchid Gymnadenia conopsea
These can often be seen in large groups on our local commons, starting from mid-May and into June. The colour varies considerably, and white variants can sometimes be seen. (However, the white example illustrated here was found on Selsley Common, where they can be exceptionally abundant.)
We are mapping locations on Minchinhampton Common.
White Fragrant Orchid
Green Winged Orchid Anacamptis morio
Green Winged Orchids are found in substantial numbers in certain areas of the Minchinhampton Common from mid-April through to mid-June. The colour varies considerably from dark purple through to almost white.
The distinctive feature of this orchid is the green stripes on the side sepals.
Pyramidal Orchid Anacamptis pyramidalis
|An unmistakable shape gives the orchid its common name: this orchid appears in June/July.|
Common Twayblade Neottia ovata
|Flowers from May to July. We have had this growing on our lawn, along with other orchids - probably the result of us wiping muddy boots on the grass after returning from walks on the Common.|