Common spotted orchids

A message from Chris Seymour:

“Just wanted to share my photos of the orchids in the country park. I have been waiting for months to see them flower.”

Thank you, Chris, for such beautiful pictures. These are common spotted orchids (Dactylorhiza fuchsii); the three deep lobes in the lip of the flower and its spotted leaves are fairly diagnostic. The problem with all  Dactylorhiza species and sub-species is that they cross pollinate very easily and produce offspring with the characteristics of both parents; identifying them,  particularly where their habitats overlap, can be a frustrating business.

The park offers ideal conditions for the common spotted orchid: damp grassland and open woods on fertile soil over calcareous bedrock. This helps with identification because the heath orchid (Dactylorhiza maculata), with which it can sometimes be confused, likes poor acidic soils.

If anybody thinks we have wrongly identified the plant, please get in touch (menu>contacts>contact us) or comment below; we like to get these things right. The length of the bracts is not usual but could just reflect the early stage of the flower spikes.

All British orchids are very demanding of their environment; they need the presence of certain fungi to germinate and develop. Disturbances, physical, chemical, climatic, upset that delicate balance and once gone, it is very difficult to re-establish. We must look after our orchids; they are precious indicators of the park’s health.

Photographs: Chris Jordan Seymour

For more flowers, click below:

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