Southern Marsh Orchid is a
perennial plant of the UK, typically found growing in wetland, damp heaths and meadows, to a mature height of up to 70cm.
The Southern Marsh Orchid takes its name from its distribution, which is generally restricted to England and South Wales, and the wetland habitat where it is commonly found. The flowers are usually purple, magenta or lilac. The flower lower lip has three distinct lobes, with two broad lobes flanking a narrow, more pointed, central lobe. The central area of the lower lip is usually marked with spots, lines or loops (or a combination of these). Southern Marsh Orchid leaves are elongated, bright-green, usually unspotted, and found both at the base of the plant and branching from the stem. Southern Marsh Orchid bears similarities with the Common Spotted Orchid, and hybridisation between the species also occurs, sometimes making identification difficult.
Botanic classification and naming: Southern Marsh Orchid is a member of the Orchid (Orchidaceae) family. The genus name
'Dactylorhiza' identifies the plant as a Orchid with 'finger-like roots' and its species name 'praetermissa' means 'overlooked'.
Concerns: Orchids, like wild flowers in general, are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) from being removed from the wild. Rare orchids such as the Early Spider Orchid, Monkey Orchid and Lady's Slipper Orchid are additionally protected from picking and damage.
Benefits: Southern Marsh Orchid is pollinated by a range of insects including the Cuckoo bee and Large Skipper butterfly.
Benefits to wildlife are also indicated with orange icons in the plant profile bar at the top.