Sunday, 16 August 2015

Irish Ladies-tresses

I've been looking for Irish Ladies-tresses here in Galway and Mayo now for a few years but never came across any specimens despite checking known sites in recent years. Water levels are very high on all of the loughs at the moment. The species is known for growing along the shoreline so I wasn't too hopeful of finding any this year as I thought the area in which they normally grow would be submerged in water. I had a look at one site beside Lough Mask in county Mayo and surprisingly came across about ten spikes along the shoreline, most amongst fishing boats hauled up on the shoreline. I checked a site at Lough Corrib in county Galway later but only managed to find a single spike. They were all found about three metres above the waterline amongst short dry sward. Like a lot of orchid species they do not flower every year so can go unseen for several years. Quite a nice orchid to finally catch up with. In Ireland it is largely confined to the western great lakes with a few scattered sites from Kerry to Donegal. It's even rarer in Britain with the Outer Hebrides in Scotland being the stronghold. I don't think it's found at all otherwise in continental Europe but oddly has a wide distribution in North America.

Irish Ladies-tresses habitat.

Irish Ladies-tresses habitat!

Irish Ladies-tresses along Lough Corrib, Co. Galway.


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