Tina and Roger Loose visited us for our February 2024 meeting, to tell us about ‘Orchids of Rhodes’. Tina and Roger give these talks to support ‘Feedback Madagascar’ (https://www.feedbackmadagascar.org/), a charity that works with some of the poorest people in Madagascar to improve their lives and care for the forests they depend on.

In their talk, based on a visit to Rhodes, they described how this mountainous Greek island, 50×24 miles in extent, has been formed by the uplift of  limestone rocks squeezed between Africa and Europe. There are 76 orchid species in the Rhodes flora, and they saw 44 of them. 29 species are diversified from Orchis anatolica. There are many Ophrys species, which can be hard to identify due to intraspecific variation. There are some endemic sub-species, e.g. Ophrys cretica beloniae. Other orchid genera represented include Himantoglossum, Neotinea, and Anacamptis – including A. pyramidalis, which is also found in Suffolk. Orchids have to adapt to the preferences of their insect or other pollinators, and there is an estimate that for every bee species that becomes extinct, 4 orchid species will also be lost.

Phil Broom won the Novices table with his Cymbidium Christmas Beauty, and Andy Gissing won the Winners Table with his Paphiopedilum Lathamianum (which went on to win Best in Show at our Spring Show three days later).