Dactylorhiza Incarnata, Early Marsh Orchid

The most obvious diagnostic feature of dactylorhiza incarnata is the shape of the lower petal, strongly bent backwards along the centre line.

Common name:
Early marsh orchid
Scientific name:
Dactylorhiza incarnata
Main flower color:
All across the UK, though never widespread
Up to 60 cm
Damp grassland, dune hollows, fens, usually on calcareous soils
The two upper sepals are angled strongly upwards, while the middle sepal forms a hood with the two small, upper petals. The lower petal is shallowly lobed, the middle lobe small and rounded, and is strongly bent backwards along the centre line, giving it a narrow appearance. Each side of the petal is marked with a purple loop, purple-spotted within. The spur is relatively short, and tapered. Bracts are longer than the flowers. There are several subspecies, including ssp coccinea, which has red rather than pink flowers
Yellowish-green, narrow, folded up along the midvein, and keeled; usually unspotted, and hooded at the tip
May to June