Wild orchids

You will admire wild orchids all the way. Don’t cut them! It is also useless to try to transplant them: the orchids don’t survive out of their habitat, where they live in symbiosis with other organisms.

More than a dozen of species can be observed from the Aubrac region to the most southern part of the way: elder-flowered orchid, bee orchid, lizard orchid, pyramidal orchid, monkey orchid… or even the beautiful and rare lady’s-slipper orchid…

Look for them from April to June on the slopes, in the meadows, and in the limestone soils!

Amongst the orchids, the Ophrys look like insects: thus the plant attracts the animal that will pollinate it. The flower is a sexual decoy, looking identical to the shape of a female insect, or emiting odors that attract the insects… which will be deceived because the plant doesn’t provide nectar!

Les Orchis sureau (Dactylorhiza sambucina), qui se déclinent en deux couleurs – jaune et pourpre –, colorent le Mailhebiau. Crédit photo : https://ca.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fitxer:Dactylorhiza_sambucina_-_Flickr_003.jpg

The elder-flowered orchids (Dactylorhiza sambucina), may be pale yellow or purple. Photo credit : https://ca.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fitxer:Dactylorhiza_sambucina_-_Flickr_003.jpg

The bee orchid (Ophrys apifera) is pollinated bu solitary bees. Photo credit: Hélène Normand

The lizard orchid (Himantoglossum hircinum) is a tall orchid which has an unpleasant smell. Photo credit: Hélène Normand

Le Sabot de Vénus (Cypripedium calceolus) est la plus grande orchidée d’Europe. Elle fleurit notamment sur les corniches des gorges du Tarn. Crédit photo : https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Deggenreuschen-8381.jpg

The lady’s-slipper orchid (Cypripedium calceolus) is the tallest orchid in Europe. It grows in particular on the ridges above the Tarn gorges.
Photo credit : https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Deggenreuschen-8381.jpg