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Discover the orchids of the Great Causses area during your holiday in camping in the Tarn Gorges in the regionGorges du Tarn

Spring is always the best time to see the largest variety of orchids and that is when you can see the two endemic orchids of the area; Aveyron orchid is only found on Causse Larzac and Aymonin’s orchid is only found in the Grands Causses.

Because the area is mainly limestone, orchids thrive on the meadows here. Across the whole Causse region you will come across meadows which are full of Orchid spikes – Military, Lady, Monkey, Early Purple, Fragrant, Burnt and Green-winged all grow in good numbers. The wooded areas often hold masses of White, Narrow-leaved and Red Helleborines while it is not uncommon to come across Birds Nest Orchids in unusually high numbers.

The endemic Aymonin’s Orchid grows here, although the distribution is sometimes patchy. Wherever you do find them however, they are usually plentiful. Other members of the Ophrys family to be found include Early Spider, Small Spider, Bee, Woodcock, Fly, Sombre Bee, Yellow and Aveyron Orchids. The last two mentioned are among the most striking flowers to be seen and only grow in one or two areas. The most difficult species to see due to accessibility problems is the Lady Slipper Orchid. Although it grows in good numbers, they are usually half-way down the side of a gorge – they are also protected and should not be looked for without a guide!!

Add to those already mentioned species such as Lesser and Greater Butterfly, Frog, Elder-flowered, Loose-flowered, Man, Pyramidal and Lizard Orchids, together with Violet Limodore and Dark Red Helleborine and you have a most amazing selection of plants to look for.

Although you can see Orchids from February through to October, there are obviously peak times to find the largest number of species. As with any upland area, weather conditions play a part in when the flowers bloom and also how well they grow. Generally the best time to visit the area for Orchids will be the seven weeks from mid May to the end of June, although they can often be seen into July in smaller numbers.

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