The town of orchids

The town of orchids

Even though orchids are connected to the tropics, they can also be found in Europe. There are 150 species in Croatia. Some of them grow in Daruvar, and a particularly thrilling fact is that they can be found in the centre of town!

All of the orchids belong to the big family of Orchidaceae with over 800 genera and over 30 000 species. Orchids thrill with the beauty of their flowers which are comprised of 6 petals arranged in two whorls, 3+3. The lower petal, which differs in shape and often colour, is also called the lip, and its task is to attract pollinators.

Orchids are very widespread plants and they do not grow only in very cold and extremely dry areas. Even though they are always linked to the tropics, they can also be found in Europe where about 600 species grow. Recent researches show that there are around 150 orchid species in Croatia, and they bloom from March (Dactylorhiza sambucina, Orchis pallens i Orchis morio) until November (Spiranthes spiralis).

In Daruvar, orchids grow in Julies’ park and the Roman forest.

Julije's park

The first orchid that blooms in the park is Cephalanthera damasonium (the White Helleborine). It blooms from (April) May until July. It is very similar to Cephalanthera longifolia (the Sword-leaved Helleborine or Narrow-leaved Helleborine) from which it differs only by the leaves. The White Helleborine has shorter and wider leaves than the Sword-leaved Helleborine. It is 15 – 50 cm tall. It is interesting that, even though it is called the White Helleborine, it has smaller white flowers that the Sword-leaved Helleborine.

Image 1. Cephalanthera damasonium

The remaining 3 orchid species belong to the Listera ovata (the Common Twayblade). It blooms in May and June. It has two egg-shaped leaves between which a stem with small green flowers grows. It is between 30 and 50 cm tall. The interesting thing about the Common Twayblade is that the development from seed to grown plant lasts up to 15 years.

Image 2. Listera ovata

The remaining 3 orchid species belong to the Epipactis (Helleborine) genera.

Epipactis microphylla (Small-leaved Helleborine) is the first to bloom among the Helleborines, from May until June. It is the smallest among them, from 10 to 40 cm tall, and all of the located specimens are very short (the tallest was 25 cm). Its leaves are few and narrow, the stem is hairy, and the flowers are greenish with an intensive vanilla scent.

Image 3. Epipactis microphylla

Epipactis neglecta (the Forgotten, Neglected Helleborine) is the most abundant in the park by the number of specimens. The lowest leaf is roundish and the rest towards the top of the stem are narrower and pointier. The flowers are, by their shape and greenish colour, very similar to other Helleborines. The interesting fact is that the species Epipactis neglecta is not formally placed on Croatia’s list of natural flora (Flora Croatica Database or FCD – the database of the Botanical institute of the Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb).

Image 4. Epipactis neglecta

Epipactis helleborine (Broad-leaved Helleborine) is the most robust among all of the Helleborines in the park. It can grow up to 120 cm. It blooms from June until August, but none of the Broad-leaved Helleborines have bloomed yet. Unfortunately both of the specimens grow in the middle of the bowling area so they are regularly, every year, cut down by lawnmowers. By the size of the leaves of this persistent Helleborine it is implied that both specimens would be very high.

The Roman forest

Besides the species Listera ovata (the Common Twayblade), all of the orchids that are represented in the city park (Epipactis microphylla, Epipactis helleborine, Epipactis neglecta i Cephalanthera damasonium), can be found in the Roman forest, along with Neottia nidus-avis, Epipactis purpurata and Epipactis nordeniorum.

Neottia nidus-avis(the Bird's-nest Orchid) is unusual by its colour – the stem and the flower are brownish, and the whole plant seems like it is made out of wax. It blooms from April until June, and it is 40 cm tall.

Image 5. Neottia nidus-avis

Epipactis purpurata (the Violet Helleborine) in the Roman forest has an intense violet stem and leaves. The flowers are not violet, as it would be expected because of its name, but they are greenish like other Helleborines and with a violet lip. It blooms from July until September, and it can grow up to 70 cm, but some can grow even higher.