Podcast in English
Text size
Bulgarian National Radio © 2023 All Rights Reserved

Shumen Plateau and the secret world of orchids

| updated on 5/19/23 2:02 PM
Photo: Shumen Plateau Nature Park

What you will see if you decide to take a walk around Shumen plateau in springtime are rolling lush meadows studded with wild flowers and herbs. The plateau is part of the nature park bearing the same name, and it has more than 250 different plant species. They include wild orchids, some of the most magnificent flowers in Bulgaria.

“The Shumen Plateau has one of the biggest populations of this species in the country. We have registered around 2,000 specimens to date,” says Prof. Dimcho Zahariev in an interview with Denitsa Koleva from BNR-Shumen, and adds:

“Orchids feel pretty good on our plateau which is karst terrain, a good combination between tree, shrub and grass vegetation. Orchids like to be near trees and shrubs for protection against strong winds. So, a motley picture like this is a really propitious environment for them. Sun plus shade is the perfect combination for some of our species.”

The blossoming of the orchids here begins around mid-April and continues until the beginning of August. Among them, the bee orchids are the most impatient – they bloom as early as April and May. There are orchids close to the trails marked by the Shumen Plateau Nature Park which are relatively easy to find. But don’t expect to see big orchids like the ones that are on sale in flower shops. They are tropical species that grow in tree branches, sometimes tens of metres above ground. The orchids growing in Shumen Plateau are smaller:

“Out of the 71 species to be found in Bulgaria, 20 grow in our plateau, and they are almost all soil-growing,” Prof. Zahariev says. “The only exception is a parasitic orchid - the bird’s-nest orchid. It is called that because its roots resemble a bird’s nest and it feeds on the tree roots, literally sucking in water and nutrients from them. All other orchids we have are green. They photosynthesize and act just like normal plants, except that their seeds need a special kind of fungus to germinate.”

It takes a lot of time for the blossoms to peek out of the ground. But once they do they can live for many years, though they do not necessarily bloom every year. Bee orchids are fascinating – they are the earliest of all orchids to bloom, and look like a bee with a tiny dove on top.

“Their scent and the chemical composition of the substances they contain is the same as that of female bees – pheromones which the males of the species find irresistible. When they are near, bees catch the scent, follow it, reach the blossom, see the resemblance and are absolutely sure it is a female bee. When they settle on the flower they will be disappointed, but the flower won’t be because the bees will transport the stamen to the next flower, which will fool the insect and will get the pollen. That makes the flowers happy, but the insects – not so much,” Prof. Dimcho Zahariev concludes.


Interview by Denitsa Koleva, BNR-Shumen

Compiled by Darina Grigorova

Translated from the Bulgarian and posted by Milena Daynova

Photos: Shumen Plateau Nature Park, BGNES

Listen to the daily news from Bulgaria presented in "Bulgaria Today" podcast, available in Spotify.

More from category

Markeli fortress

Bicycle trip to Markeli fortress promises an adventure on two wheels

A bicycle tour to the medieval Byzantine fortress Markeli will depart this morning from Karnobat. The event is part of the Balkan Arts Festival. The route along the nearly 20-kilometer track includes descents and ascents, treks on stony terrain. "The..

published on 9/24/23 6:35 AM

Installation with Sofia’s most emblematic symbols welcomes tourists at Sofia airport

In the spirit of the saying, popular in Bulgaria, that “people are judged by their clothes when they come and by their minds when they go”, and on the eve of the Day of Sofia, 17 September, a team of urban enthusiasts decided to clad Bulgaria’s..

published on 9/17/23 6:30 AM

Tripper Travel Guide lists Bulgaria's Naval Museum in Varna as a must-see

The Naval Museum in Bulgaria's coastal city Varna has been included in the Tripper Travel Guide where it is listed among the must-see sights of Varna. In addition, the museum has also received a special certificate from the British tourist..

published on 9/13/23 10:09 AM