Rare plants spotted in Ely cause a real buzz among wildlife lovers

Rare bee orchid found in Ely

Rare bee orchid found in Ely - Credit: Archant

Rare Bee Orchid plants discovered in Ely will be given the opportunity to flourish thanks to a new mowing programme.

The regular grass cutters, who maintain public open spaces for East Cambridgeshire District Council, recently found a small colony of Bee Orchids, which they mowed around for protection.

This and other sightings were reported to the Ely group of the Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire, who found many more plants after carrying out a survey.

A mowing programme has been created to enhance these protected plants, with the hope this will allow them the time needed to fully establish their colonies.

As part of the new mowing programme, grass cutting will be adapted to accommodate the flowering times of the plants. The Bee Orchids will not be in flower until around June or July, meaning grass cutters will be careful to cut around them. The plants will then be allowed to set seed and complete their reproductive cycle before regular maintenance mowing is reinstated.

The colonies of Bee Orchids can mainly be found along the verges of Norfolk Road and the public open space off Beresford Road - sandwiched between Collier Close and Brooke Grove. Signs have been erected at these locations to notify the public and, where possible, attractive paths will be cut around the Bee Orchids in order to retain public use of these areas.

Spencer Clark, Open Spaces and Facilities Manager, said: “East Cambridgeshire District Council has been working hard with Plantlife and The Ely Local Group of the Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire and decided to take part in the scheme for the City of Ely. This will ensure that these rare plants are protected and their colonies nurtured, while maintaining the area for recreational use.”

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Dr Terry Moore, added: “The national charity, Plantlife, is promoting a scheme to preserve the roadside habitats of rare wild plants. The Ely Local Group of the Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire decided to collaborate in the scheme with East Cambridgeshire District Council within the City of Ely. I am delighted to say that the plan to defer mowing of certain identified areas until these rare and wonderful plants have flowered and seeded has been agreed.”

If residents spot colonies of Bee Orchids, or other rare plants around the city, they can report them to Dr Moore on 01353 664745. He will then ask members of the Local Group and the Ely U3A Botany group to confirm their identity before notifying the Open Spaces team at the Council