Information on Heath Fragrant Orchid

Common Name: Heath Fragrant Orchid
Scientific Name: Gymnadenia borealis
Irish Name: Lus taghla na móna
Family Group: Orchidaceae
Distribution: View Map (Courtesy of the BSBI)
Flowering Period


Click for list of all flowering by month
Heath Fragrant Orchid could sometimes be confused with:

Orchid, Fragrant,

The aromatic fragrance of carnations is one of the identifying features of this small orchid.  Flowering from June to August on heathland, roadsides and pastures and more commonly found in the northern half of the country, it displays a loose spike of pink-purple flowers, reaching about 20-25cm high.  Each flower is composed of ovate sepals and a wide lip which has three lobes, the central being the longest.  The leaves are small along the stem and at the base are larger, unspotted, keeled leaves.  Heath Fragrant Orchid is a native perennial plant which belongs to the Orchidaceae family.

I found this plant in the Burren, Co Clare in 2009 and I photographed it at that time. 

If you are satisfied you have correctly identified this plant, please submit your sighting to the National Biodiversity Data Centre

Orchid, Heath Fragrant
Orchid, Heath Fragrant

There are three species of Fragrant Orchids growing in Ireland and they are more than a little difficult to identify.  I am grateful to Brendan Sayers for his patience and help and I hope, in time, to find Gymnadenia densiflora

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