Western Isles
 Western Isles of Scotland

Western Isles Wildflowers

Western Isles wildflowers is a collection of information about our Hebridean wildflowers including identification hints, traditional herbal uses and general plant lore.


Heath Spotted-orchid

Dactylorhiza maculata subsp ericetorum

Gaelic name: Mogairlean Mòintich

Heath Spotted-orchid
Heath Spotted-orchid
Orchid ID Notes
Pale coloured orchids
Intense coloured orchids
White or green orchids
Sources of notes
Heath Spotted-orchid

These pages will develop into full details later in the year, but for quick identification purposes, there are two main orchid species with a white or pink colour like this, the Heath-spotted orchid and the Hebridean-spotted orchid.

The heath-spotted orchid likes moorland, acid soil, so if you are on sandy machair soil looking at a pale pinkish orchid and there are no tormentil growing within the same area, you are probably looking at a hebridean spotted-orchid. (or a hybrid species that has some Hebridean spotted-orchid in it).

If there is tormentil growing within the same area, you are probably looking at a heath spotted-orchid. (or a hybrid species that has some heath-spotted orchid in it).

The orchids in the photographs above are growing on peaty moorland.


(We have a page where the heath spotted-orchid and the Hebridean spotted-orchid identification notes are compared side by side).

Heath Spotted-orchid notes

  Dactylorhiza maculata subsp ericetorum
Pale Colour Orchids (Pinkish)

Pale pink, lilac, white almost mauve sometimes

Flowerhead dense, pyramidal-shaped or oblong

5-20 florets

Often in groups

Slightly scented

Usual height in Western Isles 10cm to 25cm tall
  Generally found on acid peat moorland, damp pastures (sometimes on machair) - does not like it's feet wet
Found up to 900m
  Heath Spotted orchid

Bottom part of the flower broad

Shallowly 3-lobed with a short triangular central indentation, called the "tooth" (sometimes extending outward a little) wavy-edged (frilly not toothed!)

Markings purple or red dots and lines (not circles)

Leaves and stem

Stem slightly ridged

5 -12 Erect leaves narrow and pointed, spaced along the stem

lightly marked with spots, circles
Sometimes no spots

Seath Spotted-orchid
Lower leaf

Modified leaves behind the floral envelopes

Narrow and pointed

Lower shorter than and the upper ones longer than the flowers

Spur on the back of the florets

All the Spotted-orchid family - Straight, slim, parallel sided

Heath Spotted-orchid
Pointing downward -
about three-quarters
the length of the ovary (ovary attaches floret to plant)


Heath spotted-orchid x Hebridean
Heath spotted-orchid x Hebridean spotted-orchid
D. x transiens

x Northern Marsh-orchid
D. x venusta

x Early Marsh-orchid
D. x kerniorum


Heath-spotted Orchid is a native plant of the Western Isles.

All orchids are protected by law.


Photography © Suzanne Harris
Uig and Great Bernera - Outer Hebrides (Western Isles)
17 - 23 June, 2007

A-Z Wildflowers

Flowers By Colours:

yellow wildflowers

white wildflowers

pink wildflowers

blue or purplish

orchid ID notes

Flowering in:








Colour of the season

May 27th Lush Green!

June 11th White

June 25th Pink



back to page top

Home Contact Webmaster

Copyright © 2010 Western Isles Netspace.  User Agreement and Privacy policy