Their names sound like something from an old fairytale book. They are called champagne orchid, green-flowered tongue orchid and violet limodore. These names illuminate the eyes of orchid hunters. They can be found most of the time on glossy paper in books by the wayside in Extremadura.
Sawfly ophrys. It belongs to the different kinds of wild orchids in Extremadura.
Mirror bee orchid. Each orchid has got its own insect that pollinates it and on which it is dependant. The yellow jacket is the insect of the mirror bee orchid. The flower resembles the female insect in such a way that the male insect prefers the flower to the real female.
Butterfly orchid. This species is wide spread in Extremadura. It flourishes from March to June.
People have admired orchids already for thousands of years. This kind of flower ravishes so many people. The Chinese philosopher Confucius defined the word orchid as purity, grace, beauty and love. Greek poets dedicated many of their work to it. It was venerated as a holy plant by the Aztecs. These times have passed by. Orchids can today be found in any market garden and do-it-yourself store for cheap prices. The venerated flower has become an indoor plant. However, precisely because of this mass production, many people are rediscovering the flower and going into nature in search of the approximately 30,000 recorded kinds of flower. Orchids still have their erstwhile charm.
There are many opportunities to find orchids in many places. A few kinds of orchid are growing in the humid Dehesa, and therefore can be found all over the country. There are tongue serapias, anacamptis laxiflora as well as fragrant orchids among them. The summer lady´s tresses, the heart-shaped lip serapia and the snake tongue orchid are also growing near these types in a few places. When the pastures of the Dehesa look particularly rich and green, it is possible to find the relatively rare small-flowered tongue orchid. Many other kinds like the butterfly orchid, the milky orchid and sawfly ophrys flourish on less acidic ground. In the Guadiana valley there is a kind of orchid that grows only in that area and is therefore celebrated as a star of Extremadura’s flora. The green-flowered tongue orchid can best be distinguished from its related flowers due to its green colouration.
Anyone who leaves the Dehesa and goes to the mountainous forests in the north will have many opportunities to find other kinds of orchid. Wild orchids prefer mountain sides of the valleys La Vera, Ambroz and Jerte in the north of Plasencia. There are also good opportunities in the Sierra de Villuercas and the Sierra de Guadalupe. Both mountain chains are located in the east of Trujillo, therefore in the central east of the self-governed region. It is possible to discover the violet limodore, the summer lady’s tresses, Lange’s and green-winged meadow orchids in cool and humid places by the wayside. The Sicilian and early purple orchid as well as the European large white helleborine are growing near chestnut trees, which are found above all in the Sierra de Villuercas.
There is a beautiful hiking trail for orchid hunters in the region around the Monastery of Guadalupe. You can park your car in the small village Cabañas del Castillo and walk to the castle ruins that can best be reached from the southern outskirts of the place. You have good opportunities to find rare kinds of flower there. If you leave the castle ruins towards the small river Almonte, you will find in its vicinity many more kinds of flower than merely wild orchids. At both riversides of Almonte you will find beautiful places for resting and picnicking.