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Early Marsh Orchid

Dactylorhiza incarnata

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
For more information please download the BSBI Code of Conduct PDF document.

Plant Data

Flowering Months:
JAN  FEB  MAR  APR  MAY  JUN  JUL  AUG  SEP  OCT  NOV  DEC
Order:
Asparagales
Family:
Orchidaceae (Orchid)
Type:
Flower
Maximum Size:
40 centimetres tall
Habitats:
Bogs, fens, heathland, marshes, meadows, sand dunes, waterside, wetland.

Flower:
֍
Variable in colour, 2 petals
 
The flower spike is very variable in colour. They are most often pink but can be purple, rose, mauve, red or pale yellow. The flower is very narrow with a central tooth, and the sides fold backward. The flower markings comprise of two loops. Straight, tapering spur.
Fruit:
A seed capsule which contains several minute dust-like seeds.
Leaves:
Yellowish-green, hollow and normally unspotted.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  
Similar Species:
Early Marsh Orchid Subspecies

There are 6 subspecies of Early Marsh Orchid which can be found in the UK:

  • Dactylorhiza incarnata ssp. coccinea (wine red flowers, like some of the photo's above)
  • Dactylorhiza incarnata ssp. cruenta (Irish subspecies with spotted leaves, very rare)
  • Dactylorhiza incarnata ssp. gemmana (Norfolk and West Ireland only, very rare)
  • Dactylorhiza incarnata ssp. incarnata
  • Dactylorhiza incarnata ssp. ochroleuca (very rare)
  • Dactylorhiza incarnata ssp. pulchella (probably the subspecies seen in some of the photo's above)

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

Click to open an Interactive Map