It was an orchid, growing at the top of a sparsely-vegetated dry-looking bank next to the path. This bank, like a lot of the verge alongside the towpath, was recently disturbed - just under a year ago the whole length of the towpath was resurfaced and the verges were consequently churned up and left pretty much as bare soil. Now all kinds of random stuff is popping up! I don't know if this is any contributary factor in the orchid's appearance - I've only been commuting along this route since August last year so don't know what was growing there before that.
I wasn't sure about the identification of the orchid. It looks to me most like a Southern Marsh-orchid, but my orchid knowledge is very limited. Certainly it isn't growing in a marshy spot, if anything the bank it is on looks rather dry, but looks can be deceiving and orchids are known for their wayward nature! Can anyone more experienced in the ways of orchids shed any light?
|Southern Marsh-orchid (Dactylorhiza praetermissa). Maybe.|