Diverse and widespread across the world, orchids represent one of the largest families of flowering plants. They are often colourful and fragrant, and can have specialist relationships with insect pollinators. Orchids also form symbiotic relationships with microscopic soil fungi, so can be highly sensitive to disturbance and are therefore considered indicators of ecosystem health and stability.
As part of our habitat restoration work in Hampshire, we closely monitor and manage the fortunes of over a dozen species of orchids associated with woodland, grassland and heathland environments. Local populations of species such as the early marsh orchid Dactylorhiza incarnata pulchella, marsh helleborine Epipactis palustris and green flowered helleborine Epipactis phyllanthes have increased in numbers, while others have remained stable or even reappeared in the environment under our management. In a new phase of work at Marwell, we are seeking to reintroduce species that occurred historically, but have not been recorded for many years.