Incredible Okçular!

A Rose By Any Other Name . .

Last week I was rambling on about wandering over the mountains and getting overly excited about a huge stick of ‘asparagus‘ that I’d discovered. In my sweaty, fevered state I’d convinced myself that it must be the biggest tongue orchid anyone had ever seen and vowed to return this week to check it out once it had flowered.

Two things came to mind this morning; well, three actually: 1 – I should check my reference stuff more thoroughly; 2 – I should keep my mouth shut until I know what I’m talking about (a point J makes often); 3 – J can be a hard taskmaster in an ‘Onwards and Upwards’ sort of way.

We’d determined to revisit the site on the very steep mountainside by approaching from a different direction. We knew there were no tracks and that footing would be precarious in places – the best we could hope for was a lot of sweat and a goat track to guide us. It proved to be a heart-pounding climb – even J suggested a couple of rests.

On the way we were looking out for other interesting stuff and here are a few photos to break the monotony!

Orabanche aegyptiaca – Egyptian Broomrape (totally parasitic has no chlorophyll)

Gladiolus italicus – Field Gladiolus

Phlomis fruticosa – Jerusalem Sage

Arriving at the site of the ‘asparagus’ I knew right away that keeping ‘schtum’ and checking references (engaging brain before opening mouth) is a good mantra for there were indeed a few that were open including the one in the photo above.

What we have here ladies and gentlemen is Limodorum arbortivum – the Violet Limodore or the Violet Bird’s Nest Orchid (for some obscure reason). This orchid is interesting in that it has no leaves, lives off decaying matter and is totally dependant upon, but not parasitic of, fungi of the Russulaceae family. It produces the largest seeds of any of the European orchids and the seedlings are very slow to develop staying below ground for 8-10 years before flowering! It is also fairly common and very widespread.

So, an interesting but disappointing find, especially considering the physical effort needed to get to it? Not at all, because there is a twist in the tail (or tale) – as you can clearly see from the photo it is anything but ‘violet’. We have violet near the house and in other places around the area – these specimens are pink. That means that what we have here is a variation or sub-species named Limodorum arbotivum var. rubrum which was only confirmed in 1997 and is spread very thinly on the ground only recorded at 20 other sites in Turkey.

Now ask me if it was worth the blood, sweat and creaking joints . .

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

14 thoughts on “A Rose By Any Other Name . .

  1. Alan, How wonderful that you’ve been able to catalogue this sub-species and add it to your list. It’s unfortunate that Mother Nature places such things in such annoyingly hard-to-reach places but you could think of the climb as a bonus workout, maybe.
    Seniordogsabroad recently posted..The One and Only Hasankeyf.My Profile

  2. I really wished I had paid attention in Rural Studies lessons at school so I could name these plants. A wonderful thing to be able to do and as always beautiful photos Alan

  3. It looks quite gorgeous…. And such an exciting find.

    I continue to study but I suspect it will take me many years before I can identify any plant with confidence.
    Hilary recently posted..IassosMy Profile

    1. . . I’ve built up quite a decent reference library over the years and have also been the recipient of some fantastic books from biologists who I’ve assisted with field trips/studies. That said, as you know from the story above, I’m just another enthusiastic amateur who loves ‘doing’ more than study.
      Alan recently posted..A Bit Of ‘One-Downmanship’My Profile

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