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Biology

This perennial orchid may live for more than twenty years, but most plants flower irregularly and many only flower once (7) (10). It begins to flower from late May to early July (6) (7). The pollinating insects for this species have yet to be identified, although the wall mason wasp Odyneris parietum and solitary bees such as Megachile maritima in England and Colletes cunicularis in France have been seen with lizard orchid pollinia attached to them (7). It can take years for a plant to reach the flowering stage (7) (10). Orchid seeds are tiny, dust-like particles and the lizard orchid has been estimated to produce from 0 to 1200 seeds per pod and up to 50 pods per flower spike (7) (10). The seeds do not contain sufficient reserves to allow them to germinate and like many orchids form an association with a mycorrhizal fungus, which supplies the nutrients needed to power germination and the early stages of growth (7) (11). Leaves are winter-green in colour and are present from late August to October (depending on rainfall) to June, withering before or immediately after flowering. Non-flowering plants die back earlier in April or May. Except for fruiting spikes the plants persist for the summer as underground tubers (6) (7).

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Source: ARKive

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