Native British Orchids: Common Spotted Orchid

We’ve found another native British orchid. This one was found on the same site as the Green Winged Orchid; in an open meadow. Over a period of several weeks, we have been watching them develop and grow – slowly! Finally, they have bloomed and can now be identified as the Common Spotted Orchid (Dactylorhiza fuchsii).

Common Spotted Orchids
Common Spotted Orchids found in a wildlife reserve meadow.

If you are not aware of what to look for, these beautiful plants are easily missed. Walking across the meadow, we noticed sets of leaves with a spotted pattern on them. Our best guess was the Common Spotted Orchid, but without seeing the blooms, we weren’t sure.

Common Spotted Orchid
The leaves of the Common Spotted Orchid.

Fast forward about 3-4 weeks, and the meadow was transformed. The grasses, clover and buttercups were everywhere, as were the orchids. And I mean EVERYWHERE!

Common Spotted Orchids in a meadow
Common Spotted Orchids in their hundreds in a wildlife reserve meadow.

Common Spotted Orchids can be found in a wide variety of habitats. It has been found in grassland, wet meadows, marshes, fens, dune slacks and sometimes in woodlands.

This orchid is relatively easy to identify. The leaves have spotted markings, and the blooms can be various shades of pink or lilac (you can find orchids with white blooms). The lip of the flower is divided into three roughly equal lobes with bold markings.

There were a few gems – some had strong dark purple markings, others were a delicate pink, and my favourite was pure white.

These orchids were really fun to spot (not to mention easy!) and looked absolutely beautiful in their habitat. With the sun beaming down on them too, it just added to their presence. I’m really pleased to be able to tick this one off my list.

There will be more posts to come as I have more trips planned, so keep an eye out for the next set of photographs.

Happy growing.

Clare

 

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