The hunt is back on

This is turning out to be one busy holiday. Day after I came back from Gotland, my sister came for a visit. I had promised to show her my favourite stomping grounds – the mountains. So we drove up, regardless of the weather (raining), did some hiking and came back and did some local sightseeing before she left. Then I just had time to re-pack and took off – to the mountains again!

There are two more orchids that I haven’t yet seen in the Härjedalen mountain region, one is the black vanilla orchid (Nigritella nigra) and the other the alpine chamorchis (Chamorchis alpina). I knew where to find the alpine chamorchis already last year but I failed to spot them. I got a tip for the black vanilla orchid earlier this year, and I knew that they should probably be in bloom now so I headed straight there. The black vanilla orchid grows in open meadows, so when I got to the meadow, I stepped off the trail with the idea that I would zig-zag the area to make sure that I had it completely covered. If there was an orchid in this meadow, I was going to find it! And I did. I hadn’t even come to the first zag when this dark flower stood up from the sunlit grass! I had a look around but this was the only individual I could find. It had just started blooming, so I figured that it’s an early riser because surely it can’t be all alone.

black vanilla orchid
black vanilla orchid

When I had taken the pictures, I started zig-zagging again because I just refused to believe that I had come across the one and only individual of the black vanilla orchid. After a long search, I spotted three more close together, one of them had opened up more than the first I saw and the other two were just buds. So now I had four confirmed individuals, and I hope that there will be more as it looks like this is fairly early for them.

One this same excursion, I found a few strange looking heath spotted orchids (Dactylorhiza maculata). What caught my eye at first was the abnormally dark pattern, and then when I looked closer, I saw the stem covered with spots and there’s some random spots even on the underside of the leaves. Either it’s a very dark and spotty heath spotted orchid, or a hybrid of a sort?

Heath spotted orchid (Dactylorhiza maculata), or a hybrid?

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