Dactylorhiza fuchsii

Orchid Meadow hardy orchids nursery grown from seed

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Anacamptis laxiflora
Anacamptis laxiflora
/ Loose-Flowered Orchid:
elegant stems hold large flowers of deep magenta with a white patch on the upper lip. A very attractive inhabitant of any wildflower meadow. Occurs naturally in the UK only in the Channel Islands, and is also known as the Jersey orchid. Reaches 50cm tall. Suitability: A winter green species, easy to grow in cultivation. Full sun or partial shade in a short or long grass wildflower meadow, raised bed, rockery, or container.

Flowering time is from mid May. This orchid is found in much of the Mediterranean area, extending through France, and into Guernsey and Jersey. Quite damp pastures flushed with alkaline ground water are preferred habitats in the wild. Slightly drier conditions may be acceptable in cultivation, though. The leaves appear in Autumn and can tolerate some shading by long grass. Pollination is by a variety of insects.

Anacamptis morio
Anacamptis morio
/ Green-Winged Orchid:
one of the most delicate and beautiful of the British orchids. Typically 20-30 cm tall, with flowers a rich magenta through to purple. Pale rose or white varieties also arise naturally. Suitability: A winter green species, easy to grow in cultivation. Full sun in a short grass wildflower meadow, raised bed, rockery, or container.

Flowers in May in unimproved pasture or meadows in the South of England, Wales and Ireland, and is widespread in Europe. Uncommon in the wild due to habitat loss, they can occur locally in thousands as a spectacular array of purple. They are differentiated from the more common Early Purple Orchid by fine, greenish, parallel veins on the lateral sepals, and the lack of leaf spots. Usually fairly damp conditions with short turf are favoured. The leaf rosette appears in Autumn and hugs the ground, allowing tolerance of mowing and grazing, but not the shade of long grass. Calcareous soils are preferred. Pollination is by bees, particularly bumblebees.

Anacamptis pyramidalis


Anacamptis pyramidalis / Pyramidal Orchid: a classic wildflower meadow orchid, the bright pink flowers adorn downland in great numbers from early June. Typically 20-30 cm tall, the spike is initially conical, becoming cylindrical as the upper flowers open. Suitability: A winter green species, easy to grow in cultivation. Full sun or partial shade in a short or long grass wildflower meadow, raised bed, rockery, or container.

Common in the limestone and coastal areas of South and East England, Wales, and Ireland. Downs, meadows, and sand dunes are typical places, but it will also spread to new habitats, such as industrial sites, roundabouts, and road verges. It is found throughout Europe and East into Asia. Fairly dry conditions are best, with alkaline soil, but it can survive in long grass. The unspotted leaves appear in autumn. The flower lip is deeply divided into three lobes, and has no markings. Pollination is by moths, especially burnet moths, and butterflies.

Dactylorhiza fuchsii


Dactylorhiza
/ Blackthorn Hybrid :
An impressively robust and vigorous hybrid similar to Common Spotted orchid but much taller and with huge flower spikes. Each tuber nearly always produces two replacements per year when growing well so that an eyecatching clump is soon formed. With spotted leaves, it grows to over 60cm tall. The flowers are white-pink with purple markings, and display from late May to mid June. All in all an extremely "garden-worthy" plant. Suitability: A winter dormant species, easy to grow in cultivation. Full sun or partial shade in a border, raised bed, rockery, container, or a short or long grass wildflower meadow.

 

Dactylorhiza fuchsii


Dactylorhiza foliosa / Madeiran Orchid: A great beauty notable for its individual flowers which are perhaps the largest among Dactylorhiza species. The lip is a pale lilac - white colour, broad with a small central lobe, and having the appearance almost of a small butterfly. Quite tall, growing to 50cm or so with unspotted leaves and flowering in early June. Suitability: A winter dormant species, easy to grow in cultivation. Full sun or partial shade in a border, raised bed, rockery, container, or short or long grass wildflower meadow .

It is endemic to the island of Madeira where it grows mostly on partly shaded hillsides in the north of the island on slightly acidic soils. The size of the flowers has caused it to be a popular subject for garden cultivation and the basis for hybrid Dactylorhizas.

Dactylorhiza fuchsii


Dactylorhiza foliosa
/Deep Purple Hybrid:
A magnificently coloured hybrid that is robust, vigorous and extremely "garden-worthy". It will quickly increase vegetatively to form a clump. The flowers are a dazzling purple that is so intense it is often hard to photograph adequately. Grows to around 50cm with unspotted leaves and flowering in early June. The flowers have a broad lip reflecting that of one of its parent species - D. foliosa. Suitability: A winter dormant species, easy to grow in cultivation. Full sun or partial shade in a border, raised bed, rockery, container or short or long grass wildflower meadow.


Dactylorhiza fuchsii
Dactylorhiza fuchsii
/ Common Spotted Orchid:
The most common British orchid, its name does no justice to the elegant spikes that light up grasslands from early June. Wildflower meadows are not complete without it. Growing to 50cm, the flowers are white to rose-pink with purple loop and dot markings. Suitability: A winter dormant species, easy to grow in cultivation. Full sun or partial shade in a short or long grass wildflower meadow, border, raised bed, rockery, or container.

Habitats include calcareous meadows, downs, woodland rides, road verges, roundabouts, sand dunes, industrial sites and even lawns. It occurs almost everywhere in the UK and Ireland, and is widespread in Europe, tolerating many different habitats. The purple spotted leaves appear in Spring. Flowers are very variable in colour and patterning. The most abundant of the Marsh orchids (Dactylorhizas), so called because the tubers have several finger-like extensions pointing downward. Pollination is by beetles and many other insects.

Dactylorhiza incarnata subs incarnata
Dactylorhiza incarnata / Early Marsh Orchid: this fascinating orchid has several subspecies, with flowers from pure white through salmon pink, to lilac and red. Some reach only to 15cm, others to a robust 60cm. It occurs all over the UK and Ireland, but is becoming rare. Suitability: A winter dormant species. Full sun or partial shade in a short or medium grass wildflower meadow, raised bed, rockery, or container.

The most variable British orchid, with subspecies, varieties and hybrids which are often very localised. The five sub species are D. i. incarnata (pale salmon pink), pulchella (lilac), cruenta (rose), coccinea (red) and ochroleuca (creamy white). It also grows across Europe and into Asia, in damp, usually alkaline fens and pastures, sand dunes and industrial waste sites. The flower lip is usually folded back, giving a narrowed look. Leaves appear in Spring, are quite broad, and usually unspotted. The stem is thick in larger plants, and hollow. Pollination is by bees, particularly bumblebees.

Dactylorhiza incarnata subs coccinea
Dactylorhiza incarnata coccinea / Early Marsh Orchid: this is the subspecies with distinctly red flowers, a colour unlike that of any other British orchid. Growing only to about 15cm, it occurs mainly in coastal dune systems and some industrial waste sites. Suitability: A winter dormant species. Full sun or partial shade in a short grass wildflower meadow, raised bed, rockery, or container.

This disticntive subspecies of Early Marsh orchid is endemic to Britain. See also Dactylorhiza incarnata above.

Dactylorhiza maculata
Dactylorhiza maculata / Heath Spotted Orchid: very similar to the Common Spotted Orchid, it substitutes for the latter in wildflower meadows on acid to neutral soils. The flower lip tends to be broader, but there is much overlap in appearance and habitat. Suitability: A winter dormant species, easy to grow in cultivation. Full sun or partial shade in a short or long grass wildflower meadow, border, raised bed, rockery, or container.

Heaths and acid grassland habitats are where the Heath Spotted orchid replaces the Common Spotted, the latter being more at home on alkaline soils. The ranges of both overlap, however, making identification difficult. Flowers appear from late May. The lip is often broad with a small central lobe, giving the appearance of a frilly margin, but this is not always reliable. The patterning is often light and in fragmented dots rather than lines. It is widely distributed across the UK, and North and West Europe. The leaves appear in Spring and are spotted with purple. Pollination is by flies, bees and other insects.

Dactylorhiza majalis


Dactylorhiza majalis
/ Broad-leaved Marsh Orchid
: A robust European member of the Marsh orchid family with several regional varieties. Reaches 60cm tall and flowers from May - June or later. Suitability: A winter dormant species, easy to grow in cultivation. Full sun or partial shade in a short or long grass wildflower meadow, raised bed, rockery, or container.


The leaves appear in Spring, are usually heavily spotted, and are quite broad as the name suggests. The flower stalk is thick, but hollow in the middle. Flowers are normally a pink to purple colour with a fairly wide patterned lip. It occurs over much of central Europe to the outskirts of the Mediterranean. Damp meadows or bogs are the preferred habitat, particularly on calcareous soils. Pollination is by a variety of insects.

Dactylorhiza praetermissa
Dactylorhiza praetermissa / Southern Marsh Orchid: with broad-lipped rose-pink flowers and a robust growth habit, this orchid is an impressive site whether alone or in large numbers scattered across a fen. Reaching 60cm, it flowers from late May. Suitability: a winter dormant species, easy to grow in cultivation. Full sun or partial shade in a short or long grass wildflower meadow, border, raised bed, rockery, or container.

Prefers damp alkaline grassland in the wild, but tolerates neutral or slightly acidic soil, and sometimes drier ground. Riverside meadows and fens are typical, but also industrial waste sites and dune slacks. In cultivation, it may not need a particularly damp place. A Northern European species, it is widespread in Southern England, but has declined due to land drainage. The leaves appear in Spring and are light green, unspotted, and quite broad. The flower stalk is thick, but hollow in the middle. Some Early Marsh orchids are a similar colour, but usually have smaller flowers with a narrow or “pinched” appearamce. Pollination is by a variety of insects.

Dactylorhiza purpurella
Dactylorhiza purpurella / Northern Marsh Orchid: smaller than the Southern Marsh orchid, but it compensates with an intense magenta flower. Naturalised only in northern UK, it can nevertheless grow happily in cultivation in the south. Reaches 30cm and flowers from early June. Suitability: a winter dormant species, easy to grow in cultivation. Full sun or partial shade in a short or medium grass wildflower meadow, raised bed, rockery, or container.

Prefers damp alkaline grassland, but tolerates neutral or slightly acidic soil, and sometimes drier ground. Found on riverside meadows, fens, dune slacks, hillsides, industrial waste sites and golf course fringes. In cultivation, it does not appear to need a particularly damp location. Occurs in North Europe, and Scandinavia as well as N. Wales, N. Ireland, N. England and Scotland. The leaves, appear in Spring and are unspotted or lightly spotted. The flowers, as well as being a richer colour than other marsh orchids, often have a rather diamond shaped lip. Pollination is by bees, particularly bumblebees.

Dactylorhiza viridis
Dactylorhiza viridis
/ Frog orchid:
a small and delicate orchid, in Britain at least, reaching only 15 cm or less. The green flowers, flushed red-brown, appear in June, and are hard to spot even in short grass. Suitability: a winter dormant species. Full sun or partial shade in a short grass wildflower meadow, raised bed, rockery, or container.

Uncommon in Britain, the main enclaves are on the heaths of Scotland, the north of Ireland and England, and the dry chalky downs of south east England. Numbers are easily underestimated though, due to their stature and colouration. Indeed, it has a wide circumboreal distribution including Europe, Russia, North America, and north to Iceland and Alaska. In some areas it grows much larger, reaching 60cm. The sepals and lateral petals form a hood with the elongated lip resembling a tongue. Nectar is plentiful, facilitating pollination by beetles, wasps and many other insects.

Epipactis gigantea
Epipactis gigantea / Stream Orchid: a native of North America, with exotic flowers similar to the Marsh Helleborine but larger. A strong grower, it forms a good clump of flower spikes within a few years. Typically 40- 60 cm tall, flowering from early June. Suitability: a winter dormant species, easy to grow in cultivation. Full sun or partial shade in a short or long grass wildflower meadow, raised bed, rockery, or container.

The only Epipactis native to North America, where it occurs in the west of the USA, Canada, and Mexico. Prefers damp ground by streams and riverbanks, gravel shores and bars, and beside hot springs. Other common names are Giant Helleborine and Chatterbox Orchid, the latter because the jointed flower lip oscillates in the wind. The unspotted leaves appear in Spring. The white, yellow and red-purple intricately shaped flowers are large - 4cm wide or more. Multiple flower spikes arise from a branched, underground rhizome system, which has a mass of long roots.


Epipactis helleborine
Epipactis helleborine
/ Broad-leaved helleborine: Not showy, but this robust inhabitant of woodland fringes repays close inspection as the flowers are intricately shaped. Common throughout the UK, the flowers are borne late in the season, typically early August, on spikes up to 70cm tall. Suitability: A winter dormant species, easy to grow in cultivation. Prefers a shady or partially shady location, eg in a border, container, or beneath shrubs or trees.

Occurs in large parts of Europe and Asia, and much of North America where it was introduced in the late nineteenth century. Particularly abundant in parts of Northern England and Scotland, colonising parks and other urban green spaces. The flower is rather pale yellowish green, and the lip is modified into a cup called a hypochile that is characteristic of helleborines. It contains nectar which attracts wasps and other insects for pollination. Several flower spikes can arise in a clump from the short underground rhizome which has many roots. It is thought to form symbiotic partnerships with the ectomycorrhizal fungi of some tree roots.

Epipactis palustris
Epipactis palustris
/ Marsh Helleborine:
the individual flowers are flamboyant, resembling a miniature tropical orchid. Uncommon in the wild, flower spikes are sometimes locally abundant, making a spectacular display. Grows to 30 cm tall, flowering in late June. Suitability: a winter dormant species. Full sun in a short grass wildflower meadow, raised bed, rockery, or container.

Favours alkaline or neutral, but always damp or marshy habitats. Typical sites are fens and sand dunes, industrial waste sites, and flooded quarries. In decline, but it occurs in scattered sites across Ireland, England, and Wales. Widespread in Europe and into Asia. It cannot survive in long turf, due to shading by more vigorous plants. The unspotted leaves apear in Spring. Flowers are coloured white, yellow, and reddish-purple, and are intricately shaped and patterned. Multiple flower spikes arise from a branched, underground rhizome system, which has a mass of long roots. Pollination is thought to be mainly by bees and wasps.

Gymnadenia conopsea
Gymnadenia conopsea
/ Fragrant orchid:
an elegant grassland orchid with long, sweet-scented flower spikes of a delicate rose pink. Flowers in June, typically reaching to around 30 cm tall, but some varieties are much taller. Suitability: A winter dormant species, easy to grow in cultivation. Full sun or partial shade in a short or medium grass wildflower meadow, raised bed, rockery, or container.

Widely distributed in Britain & Ireland, and through Europe and Asia. There are three varieties all now recognised as separate species, although the distinctions between them are often blurred. Chalk fragrant orchid favours dry calcareous meadows such as the Downs of Southern England. The Heath fragrant orchid has small flower spikes and occurs on neutral meadows and heaths in the North. Marsh fragrant orchid is often tall, exceeding 50cm, and densely packed with flowers. It is found principally in alkaline fens. Where abundant, fragrant orchids can fill the air with a sweet carnation-like aroma, especially at dusk. Pollination is by butterflies and night flying moths.

Himantoglossum hircinum
Himantoglossum hircinum
/ Lizard orchid
: A tall, rather unkempt orchid with a striking appearance unlike any other. This is due to the long, twisted flower lip that resemble a lizard’s tail. Flowering is from June to July, in dry grassy places. Suitability: A winter green species. Full sun or partial shade in a short or long grass wildflower meadow, raised bed, rockery, or container.

It occurs on well-drained sites such as downs, golf course fringes and even lawns, but is uncommon in the UK, being confined to the mild South East. It is, however, widely distributed through Europe, being particularly abundant in parts of France. The inside of the flower hood has parallel vein markings, and the long lip, patterned with dots, is initially coiled like a spring before unfurling. The flower spike can reach up to 80cm tall and is packed with flowers. An unpleasant scent of billy goats can be detected. Pollination is mainly by bees and flies. Although many flowers do not set seed, when they do the capsule can contain several thousand seeds.

Serapias lingua
Serapias lingua / Tongue orchid: a tall stem bears large elegant flowers with an unmistakable shape – the long lip hangs down like a tongue. Often forming clumps of several flower spikes together, it grows to 40 cm tall and flowers in May. Suitability: a winter green species, easy to grow in cultivation. Full sun or partial shade in a raised bed, rockery, container, or short or long grass wildflower meadow.

The Serapias genus comprises several species, each with the characteristic tongue-like flower. Widespread and common in Mediterranean areas, plants of S. lingua have been found in the UK on rare occasions. The natural habitats are very varied and include grassy meadows and scrub, wayside verges and sand dunes. The unspotted leaves appear in Autumn, arising from a spherical underground tuber. Flower colour varies from pale pink to a rusty red, and a scent is emitted which mimics the pheromones of female bees, facilitating cross-pollination by male bees.

Serapias lingua x neglecta



Serapias lingua x bergonii
:
a hybrid serapias that bears many flowers on elegant stems that can be 30cm or so tall. The "tongue" is a pleasingly rich red colour. Will increase by producing a good number of replacement tubers each year if growing well. Flowering in May. Suitability: a winter green species, easy to grow in cultivation. Full sun or partial shade in a raised bed, rockery, container, or short or medium grass wildflower meadow.

Serapias bergonii is common in the Eastern Mediterranean, and bears lax spikes of flowers suffused with a brownish-red colour.

Serapias lingua x neglecta

Serapias lingua x neglecta
:
an attractive and robust hybrid with a strongly coloured red-purple tongue. Reaches 30cm tall and flowers in May. Suitability: a winter green species, easy to grow in cultivation. Full sun or partial shade in a raised bed, rockery, container, or short or medium grass wildflower meadow.

The unspotted leaves appear in Autumn, arising from a spherical underground tuber. More than one replacement tuber can be formed, giving rise to a clump of flower spikes. Also known as Serapias x intermedia. The parent Serapias neglecta is a rather short plant with large flowers occurring in the coastal regions of southern France and north-west Italy.

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