Southern marsh orchid at Lolly Moor by Pam Gunn 1/2
Southern marsh orchid by Ian Harding 2/2

Southern Marsh Orchid Dactylorhiza praetissima

This is probably the most widespread and commonest of the marsh orchids. Its range is not limited to just marshes and wet fens. It can tolerate much drier meadows which probably accounts for its greater success than other members of the family. Historically it was confused with other marsh orchids and it seems not to have been separately described until 1914.

Conservation status

It has disappeared from 20% of its historical range. There was a reduction of 8% in the number of 10km squares where it was found from 1970-1986 (Harrap 2005-2009). The reduction is almost certainly due to changing agricultural practices and the draining of damp pastures.

Details

Did you know?

There is a variation with heavy circular blotches on the leaves and double loop markings on the floret; this is known as the leopard marsh orchid.

The southern marsh orchid hybridises like crazy with other marsh orchids and the common spotted orchid, making identification difficult.

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