Information on Hebridean Spotted-orchid

Common Name: Hebridean Spotted-orchid
Scientific Name: Dactylorhiza fuchsii ssp. hebridensis
Irish Name: Unknown at present
Family Group: Orchidaceae
Distribution: View Map (Courtesy of the BSBI)
Flowering Period


Click for list of all flowering by month
Hebridean Spotted-orchid could sometimes be confused with:

Spotted-orchid, Heath, Spotted-orchid, Common, Marsh-orchid, Northern ,

Hebridean Spotted-orchid is an extremely attractive orchid which carries deep purple-mauve flowers in long, crowded spikes which grow to about 40 cm tall. Each flower has the ornate markings which give the Spotted-orchids their common name and the long, strap-shaped leaves can also be heavily spotted although not always. The lower petals of the flowers are not as deeply divided as those in the Common Spotted-orchid, and they are more frilly with the side lobes wider. It flowers from July to early September. One of the rarest of the Orchid family in Ireland, there are no prizes for guessing where the Hebridean Spotted-orchid grows mainly – on the Hebrides and a couple of other locations in western Scotland. Quite a rarity, this native species is only found in Ireland in western coastal counties -  from Donegal, through Sligo and again in Galway and Kerry. It is a species which grows mainly in a machair habitat.

I first found this species growing on Cruit Island in County Donegal in early September 2018. The weather was absolutely appalling with the rain being driven in from the Atlantic horizontally which explains the less-than-perfect images. Also the flowers were just about at the end of their flowering and I considered myself to be extremely lucky to have found them at all. It was thanks to a kind friend, J O’Connell, that I located theml; he had suggested Cruit as a good place to look for them and he was so right.

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

Spotted-orchid, Hebridean
Spotted-orchid, Hebridean

On the Red Data List of Vascular Plants (2016), this subspecies has been slotted into the ‘Waiting List’ category which means that more ‘research and surveys are required to clarify the distribution, abundance and conservation status of this subspecies in Ireland.’