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Orchids-Northern Marsh-Heath or Early Marsh?

Discuss the wonderful plant life of the Outer Hebrides here
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Registered User
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Posts: 93
Joined: 03 May 2012, 17:52
Location: Balallan , Lochs, Isle of Lewis

Orchids-Northern Marsh-Heath or Early Marsh?

Post by virtualheb » 09 Jun 2013, 17:19

Hi all

The lovely orchids are about again now - how nice to see. Today on the moor behind our house at Balallan, quite a few of this type of orchid. They were situated in very wet boggy land, I know they definitely arent the hebridean spotted as they have the centre toothed petal with a long point, the early marsh orchid has the bottom part of the flower floret - the sides of the lip are bent backwards so I dont think it is an early marsh orchid.

The heath orchid doesnt usually like the ground so wet, and I know that the lip of the Northern Marsh petals often curls back. Maybe my pics dont show enough of the actual close up of the petals, and I know that a lot of the orchids here can be crosses of the various types, but can any experts out there assist please?

Not sure how long this learning curve will be so that I can positively identify!
Northern Marsh Orchid - maybe?
Northern Marsh Orchid - maybe?


Paul Smith
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Joined: 05 May 2012, 19:04

Re: Orchids-Northern Marsh-Heath or Early Marsh?

Post by Paul Smith » 08 Nov 2013, 20:10

Hi Chris,

I see you didn't get any takers for an id! This is early marsh orchid - Dactylorhiza incarnata, and if it was on moorland it's probably subsp pulchella (though it could be subsp incarnata). The giveaways are the rosy-coloured flowers and the unspotted leaves. Northern marsh orchid has purple flowers and spotted leaves (and the lip is sort of diamond shaped). If you want to email me locality details off the forum ( I'll add them to the botanical records. Thanks.

Best wishes,

paul smith
Botanical Society of the British Isles recorder for vc110

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