Reddish Vale Country Park
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Bee Orchid, family Orchidaceae. A native perennial of field edges, pastures and grassy slopes on calcareous ground especially on recently disturbed ground. Fairly common in south east England and midlands; less common elsewhere and absent in north Scotland.
Grows to a height of 45cm.
Flowers June to July.
In the UK the Bee Orchid has a distinct western preference being more common in Wales where it is often found on sand dunes. In some countries the plants have protected status. They are unusual in that in some years they appear in great numbers, then sometimes only re-appear after an absence of many years.
The Bee Orchid develops small rosettes of leaves in autumn, they slowly continue to grow during winter, flowers appear the following year. Each year it produces from one to ten flowers on a spike, blooming from June to July. The flowers are almost exclusively self pollinating in the northern ranges of the plants distribution.
The Bee Orchid is the county flower of Bedfordshire.