Having learnt about an area in the Black Forest where ghost orchids are flowering pretty regularly every year, I decided to go and have a look. I was taking my daughter to visit Germany anyway, the timing seemed perfect for the flowering season, I managed to get a reasonably priced flight to Munich and a good train connection to the Black Forest (and on from there). Why on earth not?
I was in touch with a local gentleman who knew something about the topic, and he was kind enough to let me know where exactly to go to see those few flowers that had appeared this year (2014). I was excited… No, that doesn’t really capture it – I was full of anticipation and absolutely ecstatic!
This photos is taken on our approach to the woods – showing the combination of coniferous and (mixed) deciduous woodland, surrounded by arable fields:
(the sign reads something along the lines of ‘do not enter by motorised or other vehicle’)
The orchids grew just a short walk from where this image was taken. Three lumps of plants were accessible from the paths. There were possibly many more further in the woods, but because this plant is very fragile – it grows just below the surface for most of the time and only resurfaces every few years (or, perhaps decades) – visitors are urged to stay on the paths.
I saw a total of 9 orchids. This collection of 5 right next to the path:
(on the next picture with flash to show other details not visible above):
There were these three (one of them is hiding behind the other) near where the other 5 were growing. One – possibly two of the plants – have 5 flowers per spike, which is quite impressive:
(and with flash):
And finally there was this solitary plant, which had already gone over and was about to set seed:
The woodland was truly stunning, and there were signs of earlier orchid growth wherever we looked. Here is a picture of the woodland floor with remnants (leave-stalks) of the lady’s slipper orchids that flowered here earlier in the year (the broad leaves at the bottom centre of the picture):
There were remnants of different types of helleborines (epipactis) of seed heads of bird’s nest orchids (the latter below):
There were many other plants, such as Martagon lilies in seed, as well as May lilies (as in the following picture), also in seed:
As expected, there were lots of different fungi (common in areas where ghost orchids grow/have grown in the past). Most impressive, I thought, were these “rings” of fungi on the ground:
I was impressed to see these earth stars (geastrum triplex):
Outside the woods, there were a few beautiful wildflower meadows – full of scabious, knapweed, yellow rattle and more – attracting a number of interesting butterflies (see my separate post).
There were also a few bushes of atropa belladonna – we stayed well away from those: