Dactylorhiza fuchsii – Common Spotted-orchid
As its name suggests Common spotted-orchid is probably the commonest and most familiar of our wild orchids. An attractive plant with a spire of pale pink, two lipped flowers lined and blotched with dark purple and with narrow, usually dark spotted leaves it is unmistakeably an orchid. However, there are a number of closely related species that look similar to Common spotted-orchid but the one it is most often confused with is the Heath spotted-orchid. In the photograph below the lower half of the flower appears to consist of three lobes or petals; in the Heath spotted-orchid the central lobe would appear as a short tooth and the other two would be broader with a more wavy edge. Flowers from late May to August
|Type||Seeds per gram||Origin||Ordering|
|Grassland Perennial||1000000||Somerset||Order this species|
Common spotted-orchid is a short to medium height perennial of calcareous to neutral soils found in a broad range of habitats including chalk grassland, meadows, scrub, woodland, marshes and fens, dune-slacks, and even mildly acidic heaths. Although often found in relatively unmanaged habitats it seems to do particularly well following disturbance, which explains why it can sometimes be found in high numbers on artificial habitats such as waste ground, quarries and railway embankments.
Seed is probably best sown in the autumn. We have had success both sowing in to bare patches in existing meadows and by adding it to a seed mix when creating a new meadow. In these trials the first leaves were seen in year two and the first flowers appeared in the year after, with the number of flowering spikes increasing for the next three years. Full details of raising plants from seed can be found by joining the Hardy Orchid Society or visiting their web site.