Page last updated at 14:23 GMT, Friday, 19 March 2010
Rare ghost orchid plant found in Herefordshire

Ghost orchid
Herefordshire's ghost orchid, photo copyright Mark Jannink

The ghost orchid (Epipogium aphyllum) was thought to have been extinct since 1986.

It's now been found in an oak wood in Herefordshire.

Plantlife, a charity working to protect Britain's wild flowers and plants, fungi and lichens, used its plight to issue "The Ghost Orchid Declaration" - a campaigning document calling for more native wild plants to be saved.

The patron of Plantlife, HRH The Prince of Wales, said: "There is no time to lose and I hope and pray that the loss of the Ghost Orchid will be the wake-up call that we so urgently need."

Appearance and habitat

Ghost orchid
Herefordshire's ghost orchid, photo copyright Mark Jannink

Some facts about this elusive plant:

  • The Ghost Orchid was first recorded in 1854
  • The plant grows up to 25cm (9in) tall.
  • It has yellow petals and no leaves.
  • The plant is saprophytic, which means it lives on dead organic matter.
  • It is found mainly in deep leaf-litter in beech woods where the ground is virtually bare of vegetation. They are more rarely found in oak woodland.
  • The plant is hard to see - the best way is to shine a bright torch beam parallel to the ground to highlight the flowering spikes.

More on the Ghost Orchid





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