Information on Irish Marsh-orchid

Common Name: Irish Marsh-orchid
Scientific Name: Dactylorhiza Kerryensis
Irish Name: Magairlin gaelach
Family Group: Orchidaceae
Distribution: View Map (Courtesy of the BSBI)
Flowering Period


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

Marsh-orchid, Northern ,

Surely a contender for the title of the most splendid, magnificent and amazing of all of our native orchids, Western Marsh-orchid had the earlier scientific name of Dactylorhiza majalis subsp. occidentalis. It bears a spike of magenta-purple flowers on erect, stout stems which grow to about 40cm tall. The intensity of the colour of these is quite stunning. The flowers have broad, flat lips which frequently have three pronounced lobes. The leaves are quite broad, sometimes spotted, sometimes unspotted. Flowering from May through to the end of June, this species has a preference for dune slacks, roadsides and wet meadows. It is scattered thinly across Ireland and belongs to the Orchid family.  

I came across this wildflower during a week’s flower hunting on the Beara peninsula – a most heavenly part of Ireland – in May 2018. I found it close to the sea and also inland at Gleninchiquin, another gorgeous spot.

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

Marsh-orchid, Irish
Marsh-orchid, Irish

For more information on our native Orchids, there is an extremely good book called ‘Ireland’s Wild Orchids – A Field Guide’ by Brendan Sayers and Susan Sex.