species of the week #59 – bog orchid

The bog orchid is the most delicate and smallest native orchid, and the only one that can cope with the inhospitable site conditions of the raised bogs. In Rhineland-Palatinate it grows in only three locations.

Distributionstatus Threatened with extinction, only three sites left
Remaing deposits Near Dahn in palatiante forrest and Deuselbach in Hunsr├╝ck
Last sighting in rhineland-palatinate current
Habitat bog meadows, intermediate bogs
Threat Drainage of bogs, eutrophication, succession

This species is considered a northern boreal ice age relict and is acutely threatened with extinction. Already at the time of its discovery in 1878, only a few plants were found, and they are still very rare today. The bog orchid in raised and intermediate bogs and is very well adapted to the extreme life in the bog. Thus, in addition to the usual seeds, it also forms breeding buds on its leaves. These serve for vegetative reproduction; after falling off and possibly being spread by rivulets, a new plant can grow from them. The bog orchid is considered to be extremely weak in competition and disappears even at low levels of eutrophication. In addition, its biotopes are extremely sensitive to trampling!
The bog orchid grows to a height of only 3-12 cm and has 2-3 oval, upright leaves at the base, the uppermost and largest of which is no more than 3 cm long. Its inflorescence is very slender and 1.5-5 cm long with tiny flowers.
In Germany, many sites were already lost in the 19th century due to draining of the habitats and subsequent peat cutting. Later, it was and still is mainly eutrophication and succession that affect the remaining habitats and thus make the bog orchid increasingly rare.

Political necessity:
– Ensure protection of all sites and neighbouring peatlands
– Rewetting of peatlands
– Create buffer zones without fertilisation

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Picture: Public domain