HEATH SPOTTED ORCHID

Dactylorhiza maculata ssp. ericetorum

Formerly: Orchis ericetorum, Orchis elodes and Orchis maculata
Orchid Family [Orchidaceae]  

month8May month8jun month8june month8jul month8july month8Aug

status
statusZnative
flower
flower8bicolour
flower
flower8white
inner
inner8purple
morph
morph8zygo
petals
petalsZ2
type
typeZspurred
stem
stem8round
stem
stem8ribbed
stem
stem8hollow

June 2012, Sussex Photo: © Celia Lewis
Up to 40cm high with up to 50 flowers in the warm south of the UK, can be much shorter and with far fewer flowers (5-20) elsewhere. Tends to grow in clumps. The flower spikes tending to be conical (or 'pyramidal' if botanists must).


1st June 2012, Lairig Gartain, nr Glen Coe, Scotland. Photo: © Gordon Anderson
The leaves are heavily spotted and fairly dark-green.


June 2012, Sussex Photo: © Celia Lewis
The side-lobes (lateral sepals) are usually longer and wider than the central lobe and splayed outwards. The stem may be slightly ridged, as here. The flowers are washed with a pale pink and have many purple marks and discontinuous lines upon them, which never form the well defined loops of Common Spotted Orchid.


16th July 2004, Eskdale Valley, Cumbria Photo: © RWD
Growing amongst Bog Asphodel.


16th July 2004, Eskdale Valley, Cumbria Photo: © RWD
The dorsal sepal and upper petals form a loose hood. The lower lip is broad and skirt-like.


1st June 2012, Lairig Gartain, nr Glen Coe, Scotland. Photo: © Gordon Anderson
Some have a shorter spire.


June 2012, Sussex Photo: © Celia Lewis
The 4 to 8 narrow and pointed basal leaves are lightly marked with dark spots or circles.


Easily misidentified with : Common Spotted Orchid which also has basal spotted leaves, but the markings on the central lip and two side lobes (lateral sepals) form two almost continuous loops, whereas they are broken and very discontinuous on Heath Spotted Orchid.

The spurs behind the flowers (if you can see them, they are mainly well hidden behind the flowers) are slim and straight. All-white flowers are not un-common, nor heavily-marked ones.

Another sub-species exists, the dwarf Dactylorhiza maculata ssp. hebridensus which has much fewer flowers.

Often hybridises with : Common Spotted Orchid (Dactylorhiza fuchsii) to produce Dactylorhiza × transiens but also hybridises with several other Dactylorhiza species such as Southern Marsh Orchid Dactylorhiza praetermissa, Northern Marsh Orchid Dactylorhiza purpurella and Early Marsh Orchid Dactylorhiza incarnata the resulting hybrids of which also have fairly extensive populations in various parts of the UK.

In the Outer Hebrides, dwarf plants of Heath Spotted Orchid can be mistaken for dwarf species of Common Spotted Orchid.

Distinguishing Feature :

The 'spotted' in the name refers to the spots on the leaves, rather than any on the flowers themselves. It grows in the acid soils of heaths, moors and bogs. In the north of England Heath Spotted Orchid flowers two weeks later than the similar Common Spotted Orchid, but vice versa in the south of England.

After pollination, the quantity of seed-set is high.

The stems are hollow which can be tested by a gentle squeeze.


  Dactylorhiza maculata  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Orchidaceae  

Distribution
family8Orchid family8Orchidacaea

 BSBI maps
genus8Dactylorhiza
Dactylorhiza
(Marsh Orchids)

HEATH SPOTTED ORCHID

Dactylorhiza maculata ssp. ericetorum

Formerly: Orchis ericetorum, Orchis elodes and Orchis maculata
Orchid Family [Orchidaceae]  

WildFlowerFinder Homepage