could sometimes be confused with:
Marsh-orchid, Early - ssp coccinea,
Marsh-orchid, Early - var pulchella,
This delicate, slender wildflower grows in our fens and marshes and is not very commonly found, confining itself to a handful of counties only. In May and June it shows well-spaced pinkish-purple flowers on open spikes, each flower having well-marked, three-lobed lips, the middle lobe being longer than those to either side. The spikes of flowers tend to be somewhat one-sided. This wildflower grows to about 30 cm, bearing 2–4 linear-lanceolate basal leaves which can be either spotted or unspotted. A perennial, native plant, it belongs to the Orchidaceae family.
My first record of this plant was in June 2010 in Pollardstown Fen, County Kildare, on a trip to the Fen in the company of Jackie O'Connell. I also photographed it at that time. Brendan Sayers kindly confirmed my identification.
If you are satisfied you have correctly identified this plant, please submit your sighting to the National Biodiversity Data Centre
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