In today’s ‘In Pursuit of the Ridiculous’ on BBC Radio 4 at 1.45pm Matthew Oates, National Trust wildlife expert, immerses himself in the wonderful world of orchids. Here is in insight.
Many of us are fascinated by things that are rare, precious and beautiful. This may go some way towards explaining why orchids are so deeply valued within British culture. But what is an orchid? In this programme we journey down the Thames to a special nature reserve to see one of Britain’s rarest and weirdest plants, the Monkey Orchid – only to find that it is hybridising, spectacularly, with another rare orchid, the Lady Orchid, which recently arrived on the site in mysterious circumstances. Is it natural? Does it matter?
Ace botanist from Plantlife, Dr Andy Byfield, eulogises the manikins of the Monkey Orchid, the knickerbockers of the Lady, and the glories of speciation in the Goring Gap. Reserve Manager Chris Raper explains what’s going on and not going on at this ultra-special place, and how the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust welcomes visitors to see these wonderful orchids.
We delve deep into the nether regions of hybridisation and reach some surprising conclusions.