Roger and I went to North Hampshire again yesterday, this time the quarry was Neottia nidus-avis or the Bird's nest orchid. A real poser this one, hard to find at this time of year, but the remnants of last year's flower spikes have a good chance of still being upright in the ground (so at least we knew we were in the right place). So, we found a scattering of about half a dozen spikes, took some snaps and scouted around for some more…Bingo! we found a couple of areas with at least thirty to fifty plants and are sure that there will be a lot more when they come into flower.
This really is a most curious little plant, named after it's root system which needs a very vivid imagination to draw the analogy with a bird's nest, however, that aside It is non-photosynthetic, contains no chlorophyll and no-one knows for certain whether it's reliance on nutrition from an associated fungus is parasitic, symbiotic or heterophytic.
At the end of the growing season the tips of the roots form little rhizomes and the rest of the plant withers, these rhizomes then produce more flowering plants so it reproduces vegetatively as well as by seed, a most successful strategy!