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Southern Marsh-orchid: a spotless leopard?

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Southern Marsh-orchid: a spotless leopard?

I am constantly advising people to be wary of English names when trying to decide on a species identification, common names can be so misleading but for once here is one that actually has an accurate name; the southern marsh orchid (Dactylorhiza praetermissa). 

Firstly, that magnificent, pink/purple multi-flowered spike could only be an orchid so that is one part of the name confirmed. Secondly, it grows almost (ALMOST!) exclusively in damp marshy areas such wet meadows, fens, bogs and so on and so 'marsh' is appropriate and finally it only grows in the south of England and mainly in south western England hence it is quite common in Dorset. 

So southern marsh orchid it is but what makes it different to other orchids of similar appearance? Firstly, the absence of spots on the leaves means that it cannot be common spotted or heath spotted orchid. It is a much bolder flower than the smaller early marsh orchid and it grows in the south so cannot be northern marsh orchid. Other orchids are unlikely to be growing in wet habitat preferring chalk or woodland environments. As always with orchids, be aware that they do hybridise and common spotted/southern marsh crosses are not uncommon! It flowers later than early marsh orchid, flowering from late May through until July.

It occurs in some other parts of Europe and is known in some places as the leopard marsh orchid which seems strange as it has no spots.


 

If you would like to see the complete series that this post is part of click here ---->
This nature note was written by ----> Peter Orchard
This nature nore was written ----> 3 years 3 months ago

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