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Dactylorhiza maculata (L.) Soó.

Family - Orchidaceae

Common Name - Heath Spotted Orchid









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Similar in many respects to Dactylorhiza fuchsii though not as robust. Also the lower lip of the flower is broad and only slightly 3 lobed. The leaves are marked with circular spots and mainly have sharply pointed tips.

Hybrids have been recorded with several other Dactylorhiza including D. fuchsii and D. purpurella. Where the parent grow together the hybrids appear quite easily. However, the species are usually kept apart by their different habitat preferences.

Description of Genus

Tuberous, erect, perennial herbs. The leaves sheath the stem, the lower ones form a rosette. The flowers are in a dense, terminal spike. The bracts are long, sometimes protruding beyond the flower.

The name is derived from the Greek daktylos, meaning finger and rhiza meaning root. This refers to the thick finger-like roots of members of this genus.

A character often used in identification is that the stem may be either solid or hollow. Rather than cutting the stem to determine this character, give the stem a gentle squeeze. If the stem is hollow it will give slightly.

Dactylorhiza maculata
Quentin GroomFlowers of Dactylorhiza maculata
Alan Speed
Habitat Notes

Found in damp places on acid peat soils.

Life History
UK distribution

Scattered in England, most common in northern counties and the West country. In Wales it is most common in the west and in uplands. It is common throughout Scotland. It is also found across Ireland, thought it is much more common in the north and west. (See Map)

Flowering Time

In flower during June, July and August.


The fruit is a capsule.


The flower is zygomorphic

Names in other languages and countries

Gefleckte Kucksblume

Latin Synonyms

Orchis maculata