TALA 11: [This is one of several pages published under this heading by LoughAllenBasin.com We endeavour to highlight what this area of NorthWest Ireland has to offer as a place to live, a place where interesting Plants and Animals may be found, and as a quiet peaceful location for Hi Tech Enterprise.]

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11. Spiranthes, Distribution and Portraits, 2010
Flowering... reduced Distribution... poor success... beautiful flowers...

 

Location:  Lough Allen
(22nd August 2010)

 

Distribution:

The Irish Ladyís Tresses, Lough Allenís rare orchid, has been up and flowering for the past month and may, indeed, still be found. Whereas it has not been an astounding year compared with 2008, it has been an awful lot more successful than last year when only 2 specimens were recorded.

A total of 69 specimens have been recorded to date, to the best of our knowledge. A significant pattern this year has been the Speciesí marked absence from 2 major sites on the east and the west shore at the south of the Lake. Conservation measures have been attempted here and large numbers of specimens were present on both both shores here in 2008. The main stronghold of the species is now the north end of the lake.

The main function of this page is to record and portray this Orchid in this place at this time. This is an exceedingly rare plant, and a beautiful plant, with a very perilous foothold in Lough Allen. Its main threat seems to be from unpredictable Summers and very changeable water levels, though that has not been the case this year with water levels low enough for the whole season to date. It must be remembered that this is a species so valuable that it is totally protected under the Flora Protection Order and it should not be picked or damaged in any other way. So look at the pictures and be aware of what it is should you come across it.

Portrayal:

Because of its increasing rarity and the possibility that this plant may not indefinitely continue to exist here (though we hope it will), we have decided to try and portray some of the many examples of the species that we have recorded in flower around Lough Allen this year. It is a beautiful plant, especially when seen close up. It also has a complex structure best seen in close-up photograph. Finally we hope that some of these photographs may be appreciated by nature lovers and scientists alike. We had hoped, perhaps, to reveal photographically, some of the secrets of this plant. e.g. how they reproduce, what insect fertilises them, how seeds are set? Unfortunately our increasingly cold and wet Summer may prevent a lot of these events from taking place.

The photos below are provided by Frances Farrell, M.Sc. Please feel free to use them for educational, artistic, or conservation work, but we would appreciate acknowledgement of the source. Unlike other pages in this site all the small images below are backed up with large full-screen images. Just click on an image to see the full size version but please note these are big files and will take some time to open, depending on your connection...

 

 

 

 

 

 

Key to Portraits:

 

Click2ENLARGE: Click on an Image to see Full Size

 

 

 

The Spiranthes season is now over in Lough Allen. Unfortunately it has been another disappointing year for this rare and elusive plant. No further specimens have been found and, as far as we know, the tally above is a pretty accurate record of the flowering of this Orchid around Lough Allen in 2010. Unfortunately, many of the specimens recorded have been grazed or trampled on. This plant enjoys a love/hate relationship with horses and cattle. It seems to thrive where they are found. This may be due to disturbance or enrichment of the ground enabling the plants to establish, but the disturbance then makes it nigh impossible for flowers in many years to set seed and reproduce. First records from the north of the Lake were recorded on the 21st July in warm and sunny weather, with many insects flying. It may have been possible for fertilisation to have taken place. But only 5 of these flowers were still surviving last week, and may all be gone by now. A few other specimens have been damaged inadvertently during farm clearing activity.

We feel, though others may disagree, that pretty drastic measures might now be worth putting in place if we are to secure this species for the future. This, and other species, might need a Reserve established and controlled in their interest if they are to thrive. The EU LIFE+ Biodiversity Fund could be a means of providing the funding needed for such work. There are opportunities for another such scheme in Ireland. Why not Leitrim?

 

 

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[MORE TRIPS to come! Including some from earlier dates than this one!]

If you have any interesting records of animals or plants from the Lough Allen basin, we will be very pleased to reproduce them here.