GALLERY: Saaremaa celebrates beauty of wild orchids ({{commentsTotal}})

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Photo: Broad-leaved helleborine (Epipactis helleborine) Author: (Photo: Arto-Randel Servet)

An Orchid Festival took place in Loona village in Saaremaa from June 25-28. The native orchids are one of the most unique natural treasures of the island.

Of the 36 species of orchids found in Estonia, 34 grow in western Saaremaa where the festival was held. Most of the native orchids like the calcareous soil there said Maarika Toomel, one of the main organizers of the event. An endemic species of Saaremaa marsh-orchid (Dactylorhiza osiliensis Pikner) was also discovered in the area.

Up to 5-6 different orchids can grow together in the same spot, Toomel explained, but none can be picked as they are under protection.

Among other orchids in Estonian marshes, bogs and wooded meadows are easy-to-find species like the lady's slipper, common spotted orchid, baltic marsh-orchid, russowi marsh-orchid, heath spotted-orchid, common twayblade and coralroot orchid, but also much rarer pyramidal orchid, narrow-leaved helleborine, and lesser twayblade, as well as exotic-looking red helleborine and fly orchid. The latter was also named Orchid of the Year 2015 by the Estonian Orchid Protection Club.

Around 90 percent of up to 35,000 species of orchid in the world grow in tropical or subtropical regions. It has been estimated that there are around 500-600 taxa in Europe and temperate Asia.

The third Saaremaa Orchid Festival takes place in three instalments from May to July as the orchids flower. The events include guided tours, lectures, concerts and exhibitions.

Editor: M. Oll

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