Greater butterfly orchids are a wonderful and unusual flower which are an increasingly rare sight in our countryside. They usually can be found in hay meadows and as we have lost around 90% of our meadows we have also lost the habitat which supports these stunning flowers.
There is excellent news for the orchid this year as it would seem that our long and wet winter has had some benefits. Greater butterfly orchids on a nature reserve in Ceredigion have increased in numbers significantly.
Caeau Llety Cybi Nature Reserve is managed by the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales and the Trust has been counting how many orchids are on the reserve for many years. Most of the annual counts have shown up between 100 – 300 orchids, with the highest number being 363 in a previous year.
This year, however, has shown a startling difference in the numbers with 624 being counted nearly a doubling in numbers of the previous best. This enormous increase is a peculiar one but as a number of other Wildlife Trusts also have reported an increase in butterfly orchids it would seem that this is not just down to how well the site is managed.
After some investigation it would appear that the long wet winter has been very advantageous to this plant – even if us humans did not appreciate it.