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.

 

Dark, Intense Coloured Orchids

The Marsh Orchids

The Marsh Orchids are typically plants of moor, meadow , marsh and wet places, They often form spectacular colonies. Their flowers form dense spikes.

When two different species grow alongside each other they often hybridise.

(There is one other species of dark-coloured orchid growing in the Western Isles, the frog orchid which is pinkish-brown when in full flower)

The following notes are an evolving work in progress
Version 1.03 revised 25.06.07

Orchid ID Notes
Pale coloured orchids
Intense coloured orchids
White or green orchids
Sources of notes

 

Dark, Intense Coloured Orchids of the Western Isles - The Marsh Orchids
 
Widespread
Very rare and unlikely find
 

Early Marsh-orchid

Early Marsh -orchid subsp. coccinea

Large picture
Early Marsh Orchid

Northern Marsh-orchid

Large picture
Northern Marsh Orchid

Broad-leaved Marsh-orchid

Western Marsh-orchid

Lapland Marsh Orchid
  Dactylorhiza incarnata subsp. incarnata Dactylorhiza incarnata. subsp. coccinea Dactylorhiza purpurella Dactylorhiza majalis subsp. occidentalis Dactylorhiza majaliformis subsp. scoticia Dactylorhiza lapponica
 

Very deep flesh-pink, pinkish, pale purple,
(white very occasionally)

Deep scarlet, sometimes described as brick-red, crimson or ruby (uniquely so in orchids) fades a little as the as season progresses

Very deep red-purple to magenta, sometimes described as deep-wine purple (Occasionally very deep pink)

Pinkish purple to purplish-lilac

Reddish purple

Reddish-purple to reddish-violet
  Cyclindrical flower-head Stocky little orchid Dense oblong flower-head. Sturdy plant Dense, oval flowerheads Fairly flat-topped flowerhead Loose conical flowerheads
  Dunes or marsh by sea, machair
Only on dunes and machair
Dunes or marsh and fields by sea, machair and high ground
Dunes or marsh by sea, machair

Very rare only the one North Uist population in UK

Dune to machair region

Very rare only one Isle of Harris population

Basic hill-flushes

Florets
click photographs for larger version
Early Marsh Orchid Floret
Early Marsh Orchid


Broad-leaved Marsh-orchid
Western  Marsh-orchid
Lapland Marsh-orchid
 

Bottom part of flower is slightly 3-lobed and overall shape often quite pointed

Left and right lobes are pulled tightly backwards
(relexed) making the floret look more rectangular and narrow

Markings red double-loop with dots and lines inside or purple spots

Bottom part of flower is slightly 3-lobed and overall shape often quite pointed

Left and right lobes are pulled tightly backwards
(relexed) making the floret look more rectangular and narrow

Markings red double-loop with dots and lines inside

Bottom part of the flower diamond-shaped and heavily marked with

looped or dashed markings

Sometimes shallowly 3-lobed or almost un-lobed

The lip curling back upwards is a Northern marsh-orchid trait

 

Lip of bottom part of flower is broad and has 3 distinct lobes (the central one sometimes being a tooth-shape)

Dark spots and lines

Lip of bottom part of flower has 3 rounded lobes and is marked with dots and loops

Lip of bottom part of flower is only rounded and only slightly 3-lobed

central lobe small and tooth-shaped

 

Leaves

Narrow and pointed, erect

Yellowish-green

 

No spots (usually)

Tips turn in and make a little hood

4 -5 Leaves keeled like a boat hull

On the lower-half of the stem

Broad and flat leaves, erect

Yellowish-green

 

No spots (usually)

Tips turn in and make a little hood?


4 - 5 Leaves keeled like a boat hull


On the lower-half of the stem?

Broad, pointed leaves, erect

No spots or a vague sprinkle of vague O-shaped ones near leaf tips

4 - 6 Leaves spaced along the stem
Northern Marsh Orchid

Broad, oval, oblong or ellipitical leaves

Leaves bluish-green

Leaves heavily streaked or spotted (spots dull violet or brownish)

 

4 -6 Leaves spaced along the stem

Top ones reach lower flowers

 

Broad leaves

Apple-green or bronzed, and bright,


Very heavily blotched
Purple blotches forming bars across the leaves or entirely coverling leaves

 

Only 2 - 3 leaves spaced along the stem

Lowermost clasps the stem

 

Modified leaves behind the floral envelopes
(bracts)

Narrow and pointed

 


Lower ones usually longer than the flowers

 

Narrow and pointed

 

 

Usually longer than the flowers

Narrow and pointed

heavily spotted (spots dull violet)

Usually longer than the flowers, long narrow and pointed

Narrow and pointed

(and upper stem) purplish

Narrow and pointed

Spur on the back of the florets

 

 

Downward pointing or horizontal

half as long as ovary (ovary attaches floret to plant)

Pointing downward -
much shorter than the ovary
(ovary attaches floret to plant)
Tapered to the tip

Northern Marsh Orchid Spur

Spur short pointing downward

5 - 8mm long

pointing downward

half as long as ovary (ovary attaches floret to plant)

Early Marsh Orchid Spur Early Marsh-orchid
All the Marsh-orchid family - Spur Conical and fat
15 -30 florets
15 -30 florets
10 - 40 florets
 
10 -20 large florets
 
Usual height in Western Isles
10 - 30cm
10 - 25cm
10 - 35cm
10 - 30cm
5 - 15cm
 
  x Northern Marsh-orchid
(Fairly frequently)
D. x latirella
 

x Early Marsh-orchid
(Quite frequently)
D. x latirella

 

Heath Spotted x Northern Marsh-orchid
Heath Spotted-orchid x Northern Marsh-orchid

(Frequently)
D. x formosa

 

     
 
Rare or very rare crosses
   
 

x Hebridean Spotted-orchid
(Rarely)
D. x kerniorum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

x Broad-leaved Marsh-orchid
(Very rare)

x Hebridean Spotted-orchid
(Rarely)
D. x venusta

 

x Broad-leaved Marsh-orchid
(Very rare)

x Northern Marsh-orchid
(very rare)

x Early Marsh-orchid subsp. coccinea
(Very rare)

x Heath-spotted Orchid
(Very rare)
D. x dingelensis

   

 

Photography © Suzanne Harris
Riof Machair - Isle of Lewis - Outer Hebrides (Western Isles)
9th June, 2007

Index
A-Z Wildflowers

Flowers By Colours:
thumbnails

yellow wildflowers

white wildflowers

pink wildflowers

blue or purplish

orchid ID notes

Flowering in:

January

February

March   

April

May

June

July

Colour of the season

May 27th Lush Green!

June 11th White

June 25th Pink

 

 


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