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.
Northern Marsh-orchid x Heath Spotted-orchid
Dactylorhiza x formosa
Dactylorhiza maculata subsp. ericetorum x purpurella
These pages will develop into full details later in the year, but for quick identification purposes, there in the Western Isles there are two main orchid species with rich colour like this, the Early Marsh-orchid and the Northern Marsh-orchid.
The Early Marsh-orchid likes non-acid soil (basic) preferably the lime-rich sandy soil of the machair, like Riof on Isle of Lewis or Northton on the Isle of Harris. Northern marsh-orchid will grow in soils which are quite acid as well as the lime ones, and is often found in damp grassland and at roadsides.
Neither Early Marsh-orchid or Northern Marsh-orchid have spotted leaves (unless they have crossed with another species). The orchids above do have spotted leaves, so are hybrid species, probably the Northern Marsh-orchid crossed with the Heath Spotted-orchid because they were growing in a wet, acid area, and this is a frequently formed hybrid.
I am learning as I go, so these are not yet confirmed identifications.
All orchids are protected by law.
Photographs © Suzanne Harris
Callanish - Isle of Lewis - Outer Hebrides (Western Isles)
13th June, 2007