Tuesday, May 16, 2006


In praise of Corsica's orchids

I make a pilgrimage each year at around this time to see some of Corsica's wild orchids. Corsica's wild flowers are stunning throughout the period from March to June, but in April and May it's the turn of the orchidaceae to surprise and delight us.

Without being too precise about the place, there is a bank of a small stream in the north west of the island where you can see a wonderful display of yellow and purple orchids growing near each other at this time. Surrounding each plant are dozens of tiny wild cyclamens and chives. It's in a heavily wooded area of the interior and the place is one of my favourite places on earth. The yellow ones have been named for me by Kew Gardens as Dactylorhiza insularis; I'm no botanist but I understand that yellow orchids are not that common, even in this part of the world.

In the south in April, tall pink and purple orchids grow wild at the sides of the minor roads, but they are past their best by mid-May. Later on, there are plenty of humble little glove orchids to be seen in lots of different locations here. More about these delightful flowers, and others of their genus on the French site http://asso.acmo.free.fr/.

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