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.


Pale Coloured Orchids

The Spotted Orchids

We do not get the Spotted Orchid, we have our own sub-species of it called the Hebridean Spotted-orchid (along with it's crosses). Mostly this grows on the machair.

We do not get the Common Spotted Orchid either, we have a sub-species of that called the Heath Spotted-orchid (along with it's crosses). Mostly that one grows on the moor.

The spotted orchids tend to be a lot paler than the Marsh orchids.

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

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
Heath Spotted-orchid


Pale Colour Orchids of the Western Isles - The Spotted-orchids

Hebridean Spotted Ochid

Large picture
Hebridean Spotted-orchid

Heath Spotted-orchid

Large picture
Heath Spotted-orchid

  Dactylorhiza fuchii subsp. hebridensis Dactylorhiza maculata subsp ericetorum
Pale Colour Orchids (Pinkish)

Pale pink, lilac,
sometimes white or dark reddish-purple tinged

Flowerhead dense, pyramidal-shaped or oblong


Often in groups


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
10cm to 25cm tall
  Only on dunes, machair and damp meadows (usually near the sea)
Generally found on acid peat moorland, damp pastures (sometimes on machair) - does not like it's feet wet
Found up to 900m
  Hebridean Spotted-orchid Heath Spotted orchid

Bottom part of the flower deeply 3-lobed with angular shaped lobes and with the central lobe considerably longer than the other two

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)

  Spotted-orchids - top part of florets - the sepals and petals form a little hood
Leaves and stem

7 -12 leaves spreading to downcurved

Rounded to elliptical, spaced along the stem


Upper leaves smaller, almost not a proper leaf

Lower leaf

Stem slightly ridged

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

lightly marked with spots, circles
Sometimes no spots

Heath 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

Hebridean Spotted Orchid Spur

Heath Spotted-orchid
Pointing downward - about three-quarters the length of the ovary (ovary attaches floret to plant)
All the Spotted-orchid family - Straight, slim, parallel sided

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


Heath Spotted x Northern Marsh-orchidHeath Spotted x Northern Marsh-orchid
D. x formosa







x Broad-leaved Marsh-orchid
(Very rare)
D. x dingelensis

Photograph of a Heath Spotted-orchid © Suzanne Harris
Rief - Isle of lewis - Outer Hebrides (Western Isles)
17th 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



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