Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Looking For Loose-flowered Orchids

The other day I got an email from Jean-Pierre Amardeilh, who runs the orchid atlas project for Indre et Loire. He'd been contacted two years ago by Rolland Paillat, the scientific study officer for the Conservatoire d'espaces naturels de la région Centre, who wanted help with his work to compensate for the damage caused by the new high speed train line between Tours and Bordeaux. Apparently the line has meant the destruction of a colony of about 50 plants of Loose-flowered Orchid Anacamptis laxiflora (Fr. Orchis à fleurs lâches), a protected species, near Sainte-Maure-de-Touraine.

The Conservatoire wanted to find another colony along the trajectory of the train line, no further than 10 km in distance away from the line. The construction company would be obliged to purchase the land on which the orchids grow, and the idea was that for the 50 orchids lost, a new colony of 150 plants must be found and purchased. Rolland was wondering if any such colony exists and figures that if anyone knows it will be Jean-Pierre. He comments that whilst it is true that these big public works fragment habitat, cut through valleys and destroy species, it also means that we get a chance to save other orchid sites which are at risk from modern land drainage, plantations, agriculture, scrub regrowth and so on -- he tries to look on the bright side.

Loose-flowered Orchid.

Rolland had heard that there was a nice site near Saint-Branchs and Jean-Pierre confirmed this, saying that the Loose-flowereds grow with Western Marsh Orchid Dactylorhiza majalis (Fr. Dactylorhize à larges feuilles) and Snakeshead Fritillary Fritillaria meleagris (Fr. Fritillaire pintade) there and the site deserves to be protected. Rolland indicated that he would be shortly visiting the site to see if it was suitable for his purpose. He duly put his observations on, but we heard nothing more, so Jean-Pierre decided to email him the other day to find out where the compensatory protection was at.

Rolland responded immediately to Jean-Pierre's email. He says that the official purchase process is due to start this year. He liked the site he'd seen, but it is technically too far from the train line. He wondered if anyone knew of other sites in the communes of Bossée, Bournan, la Celle-Saint-Avant, la Chapelle-Blanche-st-Martin, Civray-sur-Esves, Cussay, Descartes, Draché, Ligueuil, Maillé, Marcé-sur-Esves, Neuil, Noûatre, Noyant-de-Touraine, Pouzay, Saché, Saint-Epain, Sainte-Catherine-de-Fierbois, Ste-Maure-de-Touraine, Sepmes, Thilouze, Trognes, Villaines-les-Rochers, Villeperdue and Vou. The other problem with the site Jean-Pierre suggested is that it is in the agricultural area near Saint-Branchs known as the Champeigne, whereas the destroyed site is in the agricultural area around Sainte-Maure-de-Touraine. What he means is that the soil type and land use is different enough on the two sites for it to not be a like for like choice.
Loose-flowered Orchids growing on Rosnay Common in the Brenne.

Jean-Pierre's response was that he didn't know of any colonies of Loose-flowered Orchids in the communes listed, so he has emailed everyone in the Association de botanique et de mycologie de Sainte-Maure-de-Touraine because we are the people most familiar with the flora of the area concerned, and may know of a site which is not yet recorded on the atlas.

So far, no luck with coming up with an alternative site, so if you happen to know of a colony that might prove suitable for protection, please let me know.

French Orchid Recording: If you are interested in wild orchids please consider contributing to, the French Orchid Atlas. It is available in French, English, Dutch and German.You don't need to live in France to contribute your records of orchids in France.

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