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The ghost plant shows itself

The ghost orchid is one of the most famous plants in Britain. It was officially declared extinct in 2005 as it had not been sighted since 1986. However, a recent discovery has brought the orchid back to life and back to the bucket list of botanists worldwide.

The ghost orchid, so-called because of its white stem and white flower, is the rarest plant in Britain. In 1986 one plant was seen and since then botanists have been hunting it to no avail. The plant grows in the darkest part of woodland and so can be very difficult to spot, the fact there are so few to be found means it is tougher than finding a needle in a haystack the size of Great Britain. Yet one man, Peter Marren, has found that needle.

Marren is an amateur botanist and identified 10 possible locations that were suitable to the ghost orchid and where it may be found. He had all but given up when he stumbled across the incredible flower. It is so small and camouflaged that it is difficult to see from even five feet away. Marren says that when he found it he was just relieved, it wasn’t until later that excitement pulsed through his veins as he realized what the discovery meant.

It is ironic that earlier that year the flower had become a symbol for extinct plants. A flower charity called Plantlife published a document entitled The Ghost Orchid Declaration as a guide for saving some of Britain’s rarest wildflowers. They were using the Ghost Orchid as an example of what can happen when wildflowers are not looked after and yet it has returned. 

The flower is particularly strange as it has no green leaves, does not use photosynthesis and can live underground without flowering for years on end. This is why it was assumed extinct for so long when in reality it was just in hiding. Who knows when the ghost will appear again.

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