Orchid Saved by Golfers
may have unwittingly rescued one of Britainís rarest flowers from the verge of
extinction by sowing its seeds on course.
lizard orchid, Britainís tallest and largest native orchid, has been found flourishing
on golf courses across southern England. Botanists think that it will soon be
prevalent enough to be removed from the list of endangered plants.
flower, with lizard-shaped petals, has found its greatest haven at Royal St Georgeís
Golf Club in Kent, where numbers have grown from hundreds to thousands since the
The Lizard Orchid |
St Georgeís, a coastal links
course which will host the Open in 2003, has become a sanctuary for many rare
plants because of its sympathetic management. The club leaves its rough untouched
and has introduced no fertilisers or foreign plants.
success of the lizard orchid is, however, unprecedented. Peter Carey, of the Centre
for Ecology and Hydrology, near Huntingdon, has been monitoring the lizard orchidís
spread. He said: "The species now has a good core population and is safer
than it was. This is in no small part due to the assistance of Royal St Georgeís."
course is also home to 11 other orchids, including the helleborine, the man orchid
and early spider orchid. The lizard orchid is now
itself at other courses, spreading from 10 to 19 sites since 1994.|
"It could be
that golfers are moving the seeds on their clothes, shoes and clubs," said
Mr Carey. "The orchid has incredibly light seeds and blows around, but it
also sticks easily to anything slightly moist and is difficult to get off".
He said traditional golf links were crucial flora havens.
management is needed," he explained.
modern courses tend to use lots of chemical sprays and are heavily mowed like
the American models. They are pretty bad for all wild flowers."