home

Your Wildlife Window on the World Wide Web

Over 2240 illustrated identification guides to > 720 Wildflower pages; > 820 Fungi pages; > 86 British and European Birds; > 50 native British Trees; > 200 butterflies, moths, mayflies, hoverflies, dragonflies and other Insects; > 55 Fish species; > Britain's native Reptiles and Amphibians; > A large selection of Mammals including many Bats.

Monkey Business in the Orchid World!

Monkey Orchids, Orchis simia

In some parts of southern England, the Monkey Orchid Orchis simia continues to delight wildflower enthusiasts every spring - usually flowering in late May and early June. Sadly, the number and scale of sites that contain this attractive orchid are severely limited.

Further south in Europe this easily-recognised species is more common and widespread. There, Monkey Orchids can be seen in flower from late April until the end of May, depending on location. This is an orchid that thrives on shallow soils over chalk or limestone in sunny locations.

The curly 'arms and legs' of the Monkey Orchid are formed by narrow lobes on the lip of each of its many flowers.

 

Monkey Orchid, Orchis simia, white form

In May 2022, while 'peering at weeds' in southern France, we were surprised and delighted to come across a pure white form of the Monkey Orchid - just one plant in a colony of a dozen or more plants with the usual mauve-coloured flowers.

World wide, the orchid family, Orchidaceae, is vast, with nearly 30,000 known species. In Britain there are just over 50 species, and if you are lucky enough to live near to one of the top-quality coastal sand-dune nature reserves you could see up to a dozen species there.

Wild Orchids of Wales - how, when and where to find them, by Sue Parker. On Special Offer here...

Wonderful Wildflowers of Wales - Set of four volumes (RRP £15-80) Special Offer: Now Only £10-00...


Spore Prints - where Science and Art collide (and collude)

Spore print

When you want to know exactly which kind of mushoom, toadstool or other kind of fungus you have found, visual appearance (macroscopic characters, to use the technical term) are often not enough to provide species-level identification. Then you need to do some scientific detective work. Finding out the colour of the spores is the first crucial step in in the process, and for this you need to make a spore print. It's easy! Just follow our simple online guide to making spore prints...

Oh, and by the way: spore prints can be very attractive artwork, too.


Microscopy for Amateur Mycologists

Microscopy for beginners

It's amazing how much more you can learn about fungi if you have access to a microscope. Our no-jargon Online Guide to Mushroom Microscopy has all the essential information about choosing and using a compound microscope, selecting chemical stains, preparing slides etc to help you get started.

There are also examples of the microscopic 'characters' cited in identification keys. More details...

Focus on Ascomycetes

Asci of the Eyelash Fungus, Scutellaria scutellata

Ascomycetes are fascinating, especially when viewed with a microscope. Here the spores of the Eyelash Fungus Scutellaria scutellata can be seen packed in sets of eight into the asci tubes. The same image in higher magnification can be seen on our Eyelash Fungus page.

Pat O'Reilly's book Fascinated by Fungi contains a very useful introduction to fungal microscopy.


Clitocybe odora, a beautiful blue aniseed-scented mushroom

Blue is not a colour normally associated with mushrooms, but there are a few striking blue species. Pictured here is one that makes itself obvious in another way too: the Aniseed Funnel Clitocybe odora can be found by 'following your nose'! See our Sortable Fungi Index for pictures and identification details for more than 770 fascinating fungi species.


Common Blue butterflyAmanita muscaria - Fly AgaricEpipactis atrorubens - Dark-red Helleborine

Help more people learn about and enjoy nature...

We are always pleased to receive your suggestions, pictures and help...

Top of page...

© 1995 - 2022 First Nature: a not-for-profit volunteer-run resource

Please help to keep this free resource online...

Terms of use - Privacy policy - Disable cookies - Links policy