Finding my very first Bee orchids (Ophrys apifera) in a local park this week made my day! I know they’re designed to entice male bees to attempt mating with their flowers in order to facilitate pollination but to me they actually look like jolly smiling and laughing mouths.
I had to find out more, and I have to say that, when it comes to wild plants, I love the Plantlife website – as well as giving you the straight facts and figures about British plants, they also include the most interesting fact-lets, like these:
* The aim of the mimicry is to attract passing male bees in the hope they will try to mate and thus aid pollination. In Britain, however, Bee orchids self-pollinate so the deception is not really required.
* This wild flower was once called the “Humble Bee” orchid (Humble being a variation of Bumble).
* According to Roman natural historian Pliny the Elder it was used by womenfolk to darken their eyebrows.
* The Bee orchid is the County Flower of Bedfordshire.
* In the Language of Flowers it stands for error and industry.