19/06/2018 Undisclosed Site, Leicestershire

Lizard Orchid: (Himantoglossum hircinum)  Like a plant from another planet this magnificent rare orchid stood tall along an unassuming roadside verge.
The plant get its name from the sepals that form the head, legs and long tail of a lizard. They are greenish, with light pink spots and stripes and the long lizard tailed labellum tips are even forked.

The lizard orchid is, in fact, rare not only in the UK but across Europe, with most populations being found in France and Spain.

 According to the Botanical Society of the British Isles (BSBI), the lizard orchid is restricted to the south and east of England. Populations occur in Kent and Sussex (at about sea-level, often on golf courses), Somerset, Devon, Gloucestershire and the North and South Downs. .
In fact, one of the most impressive populations of this rare and beautiful plant is on the Open course, Royal St George's Golf Club at Sandwich in Kent.

So to have one growing on a roadside verge in Leicestershire is something really special indeed.

The plant stands tall at around 25-70cm tall and is particularly noticeable and the flowers tail shapped labellum itself are up to 2 inches long, and usually twisted. Seriously its like an alien from another world.

The other notable part of the orchid is the insane flower head, with its greyish green hood that consists of three cowled sepals. The long tail has white marks and deeper purple markings just where it emerges from the cowl, and also with narrower and much shorter side spurs.

Just take a look at its superb long labellum protruding out from the flower head which is coiled and forked.

Initially the long tails are coiled up like a spring and as they gradually un-furl and extend they retain some of the twist of the original spring coil.

This is by far the highlight of my 'orchid summer' and is possibly one of the best UK orchids that I have, and maybe going to see on the journey.