Thursday 16 September 2021

mรคnnliches knabenkraut

Though inclined to think of orchids as exotic and delicate breatharians, I was not only delighted to be able to identify a wild, domestic cultivar, the above Orchis macula, early-purple, but also to learn that there are enough varieties here for Germany to have selected a distinct orchid of the year since 1989 (this one honoured in 2009). Like other orchids, it produces no nectar but attracts pollinators through mimicry of adjacent flowers. Named for its suggestive virility of their rooty nethers, Queen Gertrude of Shakespeare’s Hamlet demurs, mentioning, “Of crow-flowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples, that liberal shepherds give a grosser name.”