Rare Coralroot Orchid found in Wester Ross

A RARE Coralroot Orchid has been found in Wester Ross for the first time in 250 years.

The orchid was spotted earlier this month on on the National Trust for Scotland’s Balmacara Estate during a visit by conservation land managers from the Alliance for Scotland’s Rainforest.

Gus Routledge, an ecologist representing Reforesting Scotland and Scotland the Big Picture, spotted the plant.

“Just the week before, I’d discovered a new population of this special orchid in much more typical boreal birch-willow woodland near Inverness,” he explained.

“I wasn’t really expecting to see it at Balmacara, but I’ve always got an eye out when walking through those wet woodlands.”

The orchid was last recorded in the area by John Lightfoot and Thomas Pennant in 1772, which was the first record of Coralroot Orchid in the British Isles.

The record was published in the first botanical book on Scottish plants, Flora Scotica, which recorded some of the earliest botanical expeditions in Scotland.

Jeff Waddell, the trust’s senior natural heritage advisor, who is familiar with the orchid from a few other sites in Scotland, said: “This is a special find and a great addition to the assemblage of rare plants found in Scotland’s rainforests, such as on the National Trust for Scotland’s Balmacara Estate.

“Gus’s record creates an incredible link through 250 years of botanical time, to one of the first expeditions to Scotland by John Lightfoot in the 1770s.”

Read more news on Scottish Field’s gardens pages.

Plus, don’t miss photographs from former Scottish Ballet dancer Andy Peasgood’s stunning garden in the July issue of Scottish Field magazine.