On the Thursday after we arrived, our UK neighbours, who happen to be here in Spain at the same time, had booked into a locally organized walking tour of Jalón, principally to see the Riu Raus [raisin drying buildings, I believe – maybe more on that later]. What Francine and I were most interested in on their return, however, was their report of orchids in flower on part of the walk. We grabbed directions and set off.
There’s a lot of rough ground in Spain but there were supposedly two orchids on some rough ground behind one of our favoured bars, just after a stations of the cross track. Without precision, there was a fair bit of ground to search but, sure enough, just off the main track Francine spotted two orchid spikes. They were big ones, too, so she spotted them from about 20 metres away. After confirming here suspicion in a book, Francine decided these were Giant Orchids (Barlia robertiana), with quite broad leaves. These two were quite different colours, too, one being very pale. Francine had seen one, her first, she thought, on a walk up a hill behind Senija a few years ago but, despite searching there again, had failed to find the suspect again. With a flowering season noted as January – May, we had perhaps been looking a little too late. So, these were a welcome find.
Spurred on by this discovery, we were keen to see how another of our previously visited orchid patches was faring. We set off up the Bernia, straining my neck looking beyond Italian design obstructions as we bounced and joggled our way round multiple hairpin bends. Finally, to my neck’s relief, we arrived.
It’s a tad exposed up at the top of the Bernia road but we were soon finding individuals of two species, the rather unattractively named Dull Ophrys (Ophrys fusca), which I’d describe as anything but dull with its strikingly dark lip, and the Sawfly Ophrys (Ophrys tenthredinifera). Because we were early in the flowering season, they seemed to be in good, photogenic condition.
There was another notable find up on the Bernia: masses of the tiniest little daffodil-like flowers we’d ever seen. These appear to be Jonquils (Narcissus jonquila). The stems were, I’d say, 6-8cms tall and the flower heads little more than 1.5 cms across. Quite charming.
We did try a wander around Las Salinas in Calpe, too. There wasn’t much moving but we did find one more Giant Orchid near the boardwalk overlooking the Flamingos. Here’s a bit of a close-up of the flower spike, to show a bit more detail.
I don’t think we were expecting to find orchids in full flower, though we had seen evidence of leaves before. A pleasant surprise.