Out walking today and I spotted this, the Common Spotted Orchid (Dactylorhiza fuchsii).
(Click on the pics for a bigger version).
Ok, I had some help, the information leaflet we picked up with the map of the walk said that there were four sorts of wild orchid in the meadows beside the path and along the edges of the path. If it was not for that I would not have even thought to look for them.
The leaflet mentioned the Northern Marsh Orchid (Dactylorhiza purpurella, though I had to look up the correct name later) and had a very vauge drawing of it. Lots of flowers could have looked similar from that drawing, but close inspection told me they were not orchids, they just didn't look like orchids.
Then I spotted this and decided it was the most likely to be an orchid. Once I got home I searched for Northern Marsh Orchid
and it was similar, but links from there to the Common Spotted Orchid lead me to believe that's what these pics are (the shape of the lip is a better match).
These orchids are a common European orchid are found in northan England, Scotland and the Northen part of Ireland.
The leaves are hidden in the grass (they are strap like and mottled) and the flower spikes poke up surrounded by grasses and other wild flowers. The flowering part of the spike is about 3cm in height (1-2inches). The colour varies from white to quite purple, I could see a mixture of colours along the path.
They naturally hybridise with Dactylorhiza purpurella and Dactylorhiza maculata ssp ericetorum (Heath Spotted Orchid) but from what I can find online both of these (and the hybrids) have a different shape lip.
This is the first time I have seen a wild orchid, I was so excited to find out it really was one.
I was also pleased how well the
came out from my little shoot-and-click camera. It's "digital macro" mode can do wonders.