MARSH FRAGRANT-ORCHID

DENSE-FLOWERED FRAGRANT-ORCHID

Gymnadenia densiflora

Orchid Family [Orchidaceae]

month8jun month8june month8jul month8july

status
statusZnative
 
flower
flower8pink
 
flower
flower8mauve
 
morph
morph8zygo
 
petals
petalsZ5
 
type
typeZspiked
dense
type
typeZspurred
 
stem
stem8round
 
smell
smell8fragrant
fragrant
sex
sexZbisexual
 

9th July 2008, Hawes Water, nr Gait Barrows, Silverdale, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Marsh Fragrant-orchids frequently have a dense inflorescence, but don't count on anything with Fragrant Orchids; they are masters of disguise, often disobeying identification books or id keys - anything to stop botanists without access to a gene scanner finding out their true identity. Marsh Fragrant-orchids usually have the longest lateral sepals, which are said to be narrow (1mm thick - the same as for Common Fragrant-Orchid) rather than the wider 2mm thick of Heath Fragrant-Orchid).


9th July 2008, Hawes Water, nr Gait Barrows, Silverdale, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
The lower lip of the flowers of Marsh Fragrant-orchid are often claimed to have the shape of those old fashioned ladies dresses which widen abruptly at the waist, but don't bank on it... Theye are also claimed to have a narrower central lobe on this lower lip which is shorter than the other two each side, but as you can see, this specimen has multiple lobes on the lower lip.


9th July 2008, Hawes Water, nr Gait Barrows, Silverdale, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Marsh Fragrant-orchids are said to often have the lateral lobes spread out horizontally (rather than at a slight downward angle as for Chalk Fragrant-Orchids.


9th July 2008, Hawes Water, nr Gait Barrows, Silverdale, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
But this specimen, although having an abruptly widening lower skirt at the hips which fits in with the specification for Marsh Fragrant-orchid, erroneously has a longer central lip rather than a shorter one...


9th July 2008, Hawes Water, nr Gait Barrows, Silverdale, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
These flowers on this specimen have pointed lateral sepals which taper at ~45° to a point and are wide as per the specification for the much rarer Heath Fragrant-Orchid (but whether or not they are might be a matter for debate).


9th June 2018, Waitby Greenriggs, Kirkby Stephen, Yorks. Photo: © RWD
This specimen also has pointed and wide lateral sepals - plus a longer central lobe on the lower lip - all three characters of the rarer Heath Fragrant-Orchid - but whether or not they are this is open to debate...


6th July 2016, Waitby Greenriggs, Kirkby Stephen, Yorks. Photo: © RWD
But here is the proof of the disparity - or the long and short of it - this specimen has flowers with both a lower lip with a shorter central lobe (top flower) and one with a longer central lobe on the lower lip (lower flower). It is thus in a quantum superpositional state of being both and neither at the same time.


9th July 2008, Hawes Water, nr Gait Barrows, Silverdale, Lancs. Photo: © RWD


IDENTIFICATION OF FRAGRANT ORCHIDS
All three species of Fragrant Orchid have a great propensity for their so-called 'identifying features' to overlap so much that quite often it is impossible to separate the three species. The identifying books don't help much either for there are at least 6 ID guides to separating the three species, but often they also disagree on which features are better for identifying them. The only fool-proof reliable way of identifying them for certain is by DNA analysis, whereupon the delineation between the three is clear-cut (it is by this means that the 3 species were split from just one species with 3 sub-species in the first place). But hardly anyone has a DNA analyser, let alone an affordable lightweight portable one for use in the field and even if they had, most plants have not yet been scanned or added to the DNA database (as far as your Author understands - as of March 2019).

Fragrant Orchids are possibly the hardest flowers to reliably and accurately identify in the field, and there are some that cannot. If any reader thinks I have mis-identified any, please let me know which one(s) and what their real identities are - or if it is one of those unidentifiables and just needs deleting (I'll go and dig it up :-).

Some experts say that the 3 species don't flower at the same time, but others say that you cannot rely on this! Most of the 3 Fragrant Orchids dont grow together anyway, some areas have only one species, some two (as in Nob End) and a few (Waitby Greenriggs) all three species, but not usually all flowering at the same time.

But a Fragrant Orchids itself, counting the 3 as just one, is easily identified as a Fragrant Orchid, the trouble only comes when trying to determine which one...

Some experts say that the 3 species don't flower at the same time, but others say that you cannot rely on this! Most of the 3 Fragrant Orchids don't grow together anyway, with some areas have only one species, some two (as in Nob End) and a few (Waitby Greenriggs) possess all three species, but not usually all flowering at the same time.

But a Fragrant Orchid itself, counting the 3 as just one, is easily identified as a Fragrant Orchid, the trouble only comes when trying to determine which one...

Easily mistaken for : any of the 3 Fragrant-orchids (Gymnadenia) species.

If anyone thinks that any specimens on this page are other than Marsh Fragrant-orchid, then please let me know (and preferably submit some photos which definitely are Marsh Fragrant-orchid, especially if you have ID'd them by a genetic DNA scanner to be 100% certain - your Author would be pleased to insert them here with acknowledgements).

Gymnadenia species form Inter-Genera Hybrids with several other Orchids:

  • (Gymnadenia densiflora × fuchsii) which is found in Cumbria and South Hants as well as probably potentially occurring wherever Marsh Fragrant-orchid occurs.
  • (Gymnadenia densiflora × praetermissa) to produce X Dactylodenia ettlingeriana which is found in Southern England and South Wales.
  • (Gymnadenia densiflora × Dactylorhiza purpurella) which was once found in Westmorland in 2003.

Intergenera hybrids should not really occur if the taxonomy is correct, intergenera hybrids usually indicate that the taxonomy is wrong, but in the case of Orchids, this taxonomy will never be sorted out, there are other unseen players on the field: their fungal partners.


  Gymnadenia densiflora  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Orchidaceae  

Distribution
 family8Orchid family8Orchidaceae
 BSBI maps
genus8Gymnadenia
Gymnadenia
(Fragrant-Orchids)

MARSH FRAGRANT-ORCHID

DENSE-FLOWERED FRAGRANT-ORCHID

Gymnadenia densiflora

Orchid Family [Orchidaceae]