Wild orchids – the surprise of the menorcan woods

For a small island, Menorca has a very rich wealth of flora including more than 1,200 different species.  Precisely because it is an island, the species have evolved differently to the mainland of Spain and our plants and flowers are endemic to the island.  In our walks through the Menorcan woods we find pines, wild olive trees and also the beautiful wild orchids.

Ophrys tenthredinifera Bonnin - Wild orchids – the surprise of the menorcan woods

Red Bee

The respect for these orchids come not only from the naturalists themselves who today continue to study their form and above all their pollination, but also worldwide. Perhaps we are more accustomed to finding them in the florist’s shops than the Menorcan countryside but it is one of the wonders of Spring on our island each year and if we are lucky and we look hard thirty different orchids can be found.

Ophrys speculum Bonnin - Wild orchids – the surprise of the menorcan woods

Mirror of Venus

The most common two orchids are the Red Bee, known on the island as the Red Fly (Ophrys tenthredinifera) and the Mirror of Venus or Blue Fly (Ophrys speculum).  Both of these are of the genus Ophrys whose flowers resemble the bodies of bumblebees and other fly like insects. The flowers produce aromatic substances which attract male insects.  The most universal botanist of all time, Charles Darwin, devoted an entire book to the study of pollination of orchids which is still in use today in most universities.

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