Historical records of Ghost Orchids have also been documented in Ludlow, Shropshire, where it was found to be growing in 1876, 1878 and 1892. No records from this locality have been made since. Shropshire and Herefordshire sightings have always been infrequent, with considerable gaps between flowering individuals, probably due to lack of frequent coverage.
Four known sites in total exist in Oxfordshire, in a complex of woodlands near to Henley-on-Thames. Originally found here in 1923, sightings have continued in this area up until recent years, appearing intermittently in both the 1950s and 60s, as well as reports of flowering in 1994 and the late 1990s.
The botanical world came to a standstill when a solitary flowering spike was rediscovered at a previously known Herefordshire site in 2009. This was the first record in the area for nearly 30 years, and the only known verified report in recent times. The Ghost Orchid was orignally found at this location in 1982, when a single spike was discovered in a wood growing under oak and pine.
Three sites are known in Buckinghamsire, the most famous of which was home to an exceptional colony of 25 spikes in 1953. Subsequent years never saw numbers anywhere near as impressive, although flowers were found right up until at least 1987.
© John Roberts
© Dan Mitchell
© Dr Tim Rich
© Colin Scrutton
All UK populations of the Ghost Orchid are small and highly localised. Flowers have traditionally only occurred in two areas in the entire British Isles - the Chiltern Hills and the Welsh Borders around Herefordshire and Shropshire. 11 sites in total are known, the vast majority of which comprise of a series of near-by Beech woods in Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire. Whilst no flowers have been recorded for definite in the Chilterns since the late 1980s, this doesn't necessarily mean that the species no longer occurs there. Plants can remain underground for extensive periods until the correct conditions for flowering occur, ranging anywhere between 1 and 37 years. Many plants will often simply flower within the leaf litter, hidden from view. This was demonstrated when the species was rediscovered at a site in Herefordshire in 2009, with a gap of 27 years between flowering events.