Between 3 and 5 May project partners of LIFE FOR SEEDS visited the third of four planned networking projects. We went to Portofino Park, situated ca. 30 km east of Genova in the Italian province of Liguria. It is one of the project areas of LIFE Orchids (LIFE17 NAT/IT/000596), where several orchid microreserves were established.
Their management complies with ecological needs of target orchid species, among them also the endemic pink-flowering Orchis patens. Its global distribution area is very peculiar, as it encompasses only Liguria and Algeria. In Liguria, it hybridizes with the yellow-flowering Provence orchid Orchis provincialis, and the hybrids are more »fit« than Orchis patens.
Apart from establishing and managing orchid microreserves, one of the main goals of the project is also to raise 3600 orchid seedlings or tubers of nine species, that will be planted in microreserves. The majority of orchids are propagated on agar without the use of mycorrhizal fungi. This turned out to be quite challenging, because several species are reluctant to germinate. Moreover, all species require two to three years to reach the phase in which they can be transplanted outdoors (usually in the form of tubers). Therefore, the excitement over a flowering Bertoloni’s bee orchid Ophrys bertolonii, transplanted as a tuber in one of the microreserves two years ago, was absolutely understandable!