Neottia nidus-avis - Bird's-nest Orchid

Confined to Beech woodlands, locally frequent in the South, but rarer in the North

Bird's-nest Orchid

Unlike most other flowering plants the Bird's-nest Orchid does not have green leaves to collect its energy from sunlight. Instead it lives entirely below ground beneath Beech trees and is 'saprophytic', which means it gets all its energy from dead vegetation. In fact the plant lives in partnership (symbiosis) with a fungus which can digest the vegetation and passes some of the nutrients to the Orchid, in return the Orchid manufactures certain complex chemicals for its partner.

The only time you are likely to see a Bird's-nest Orchid is in early summer when it puts up its pale yellow-brown flowering stem.

Photo - B. Soames

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