Early Marsh-orchid, ssp.coccinea
could sometimes be confused with:
Marsh-orchid, Early - var pulchella,
From May to July, these little orchids are such a beautiful shade of red, defying a description but possibly crimson or carmine or brick-red or pale claret. Growing to 20cm high, they favour dunes, damp grassland, fens and marshes with their beautiful spikes of flower-heads. Each of these flowers has a blunt spur, pointing downward and a lip which has a small central tooth and is folded along its centre. A pattern of soft dark maroon dots and lines emerges from the pale mouth of each flower. Two outer sepals stand erect while a third, with two further petals, forms a hood. The leaves are oblong, folded along the centre and unspotted. This perennial plant is a native and it belongs to the family Orchidaceae.
I found and photographed this orchid at Ballyteigue, Co Wexford in June 2009.
If you are satisfied you have correctly identified this plant, please submit your sighting to the National Biodiversity Data Centre
This is a subspecies for which Ireland holds or possibly holds more than 25% of the European population (Ireland Red List No. 10 Vascular Plants)
To learn more about our Irish orchids, I would heartily recommend a really superb book on the subject which is published by the Collins Press and entitled 'Ireland's Wild Orchids - a field guide'.
Each of our native orchids is beautifully illustrated by the gifted botanical artist, Susan Sex and is an exquisite representation of an amazing plant; Susan's illustrations are complemented by carefully-chosen words from our National Botanic Gardens orchid specialist, Brendan Sayers. Susan's illustrations of key features of our native orchids are extremely useful when trying to identify a species and Brendan's descriptions help to broaden one's understanding of this complex and intriguing subject, and lead one nearer to making a possible identification. He also contributes information on the conservation of these magnificent little plants and gives details of where they might be found. Please seek out this masterpiece from your usual bookseller or find it on http://www.collinspress.ie/irelands-wild-orchids.html