Dactylorhiza incarnata ssp cruenta   Leopard Orchid C DD N

Dactylorhiza incarnata ssp cruenta leaf Dactylorhiza incarnata ssp cruenta whole plant Dactylorhiza incarnata ssp cruenta floret close

As we searched the limestone pavement for this sub-species of Dactylorhiza incarnata (Early Marsh Orchid), we met another botanist who remarked that he had met people searching for the "Leopard Orchid". I assumed they were mistaken never having heard that name applied to a British Isles Orchid before. Leopard Orchid turns out to be an apt and local English name (Irish name: Magairlin craorag) for this plant which is found only on the Burren and in the Gairloch region of Scotland but is not a rarity according to Stace. The ends of the leaves have round spots of different sizes which immediately remind you of a Leopard's coat.

This species usually has the labellum of the flower (lower lip) strongly reflexed (See Dactylorhiza incarnata ssp coccinea) which is not as pronounced in this plant or in another which we also found.

Burren Limestone pavement, County Clare, Ireland 23rd May 2005

Added on May 24th 2005, updated 11th December 2008, updated 28th March 2010

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