Is it a bird? Not it's an orchid!

FIRST continental egrets flew into Ipswich, now their plant partners are making an entrance too.The elegant birds have been one of global warming's few winners, once found on the shores of the Mediterranean the graceful birds have seen on the banks of the river Orwell since 2001.

FIRST continental egrets flew into Ipswich, now their plant partners are making an entrance too.

The elegant birds have been one of global warming's few winners, once found on the shores of the Mediterranean the graceful birds have seen on the banks of the river Orwell since 2001.

And now Ipswich-based seed company Thompson & Morgan is introducing a new flower named after the birds, the white egret orchid.

Michael Perry, new product development manager at the company, said: “The exquisite, pearly white, fragrant flowers are displayed like a flock of miniature birds hovering gracefully atop slender stems, as each bloom resembles an egret in flight.”

Legend has it that the flower came into existence during a period of conflict in Japan.

It is said that at that time a girl from the Castle of Setagaya, Tokyo, sent a letter to her lover who was in battle.

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She gave it to a white egret however the egret did not reach him and where the bird fell to the ground a beautiful flower began to grow.

This flower was the white egret orchid, known as Sagisoo to the Japanese, and now the flower mascot of the Castle of Setagaya.

Mr Perry added: “We are very excited to be able to offer this unique new plant to our customers.

“The resemblance to the bird has to be seen to be believed!”

The white egret orchid, or habenaria radiata, is native to Japan and needs plenty of water to grow.

Have you grown a white egret orchid? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

Egrets

The birds look similar to small white herons

In the breeding season the egret acquires head plumes and trailing plumes on its back.

Active feeders, they often chase after fish in shallow water and stab with great accuracy.

Little egrets feed mainly on fish and small shore-dwelling animals although one has been spotted eating hawthorn berries from a bush.

Peak numbers at roost sites tend to occur in late August and early September - some birds tend to disperse to smaller sites as winter progresses.

During cold weather egrets are often seen inland along rivers and streams.

The birds often rest in a hunched up position with head and neck hidden and can be confused with the mute swan.

The first influx of little egrets into Britain from northwestern France occurred in 1989.

In the 19th and early part of the 20th century some egret species were endangered by hunting, since hat makers wanted large numbers of egret plumes.