Surely a contender for the title of the most splendid, magnificent and amazing of all of our native orchids, Irish Marsh-orchid had the earlier scientific name of Western Marsh-orchid / 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