Pyramidal orchids (c) Paul Lane
Exotic, seductive and just a little bit curious, orchids are one of the UK's most unusual group of flowering plants.
Many species of orchid need carefully managed habitats and have specialist requirements. Some can be locally scarce and difficult to find, whilst others provide spectacular vistas of flower spikes numbering in their thousands in favourable years.
All species rely to some extent on a complex symbiotic relationship with fungal partners, utilizing nutrients provided by the fungi to aid seed survival before germination. This dormant stage can be lengthy, and once growth begins, some orchids may take another five years before flowering.
Despite the many conditions necessary for orchids to flower successfully, they do occur in a range of habitats from woodland and wetland to grasslands and coastal dunes. The flowering times of this group also extend from early spring through to autumn, so a display near you may be closer than you think.
Download our guide to 40 Wildlife Trust reserves to see these beautiful flowers.