Dactylorhiza kerryensis   Irish Marsh-orchid R DD N Endemic

Dactylorhiza majalis ssp occidentalis whole Dactylorhiza majalis ssp occidentalis

We found a few of these orchids beginning to flower which superficially look like Dactylorhiza purpurella (Northern Marsh-orchid) but on close examination they all had distinct markings on the "wrong shaped" labellum and much wider leaves. In any case Dactylorhiza purpurella doesn't grow in this particular habitat. Typically this species has ring shape blotches on the leaves but in this part of Ireland leaves are often without marks.

The systematic name of this plant has changed so many times it needs an archeologist to dig out the history. Once the plant was Dactylorhiza majalis ssp occidentalis and at some time it was Dactylorhiza comosa ssp occidentalis. Then it gained full species status: Dactylorhiza occidentalis and consequently there was no Dactylorhiza majalis recognised in the British Isles. In New Flora of the British Isles Edition 3 (2010) by Clive Stace it changed again to Dactylorhiza kerryensis and the English name is now Irish Marsh Orchid instead of Western Marsh-orchid. This change to the English name (which I think should be absolutely forbidden on pain of having to study Dandelions for life) does not help very much as Dactylorhiza traunsteinerioides known in New Flora of the British Isles as Narrow-leaved Marsh-orchid is also sometimes known as Irish Marsh-orchid in other texts.

There is a little Dactylorhiza kerryensis on mainland Britain but as the name suggests it is found most often in the west of Ireland.

Edge of Lough Rinnamona, County Clare, Ireland May 23rd 2005

Added on 27th May 2005, updated 11th December 2008, updated 28th March 2010, updated 23rd May 2012

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