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Common Spotted Orchid

Scientific Name: Dactylorhiza fuchsii
Other names: Dead Men's Fingers
Family: Orchidaceae

This relatively common marsh orchid is NOT a weed and is less likely to occur in urban gardens, but is found throughout the British Isles. If you find one in your garden treat it carefully and cherish it - they are a protected species. It prefers grassland, hedge banks or open woodland with chalky soil. It is very similar to the Heath Spotted Orchid, (Dactylorhiza maculata ), but the latter likes acid soils and the lower lip of the flowers may have frills instead of lobes.
The fokelore name of Dead Men's fingers is due to the fleshy, finger-like roots.
The leaves are lanceolate, usually have dark spots, with a basal group and more which decrease in size, alternately arranged up the stem. The height varies from 20 to 45cm.
The flowers appear from June to August in a cone-shaped spike. They range from pale to dark pink with darker spots which run together in lines. The lower lip has three lobes.

As wildflowers they should not be uprooted, also moving them is reported to be unlikely to succeed because of their association with specific mycorrhizal fungi in the soil.

Follow these links for further details on Weeds, Weed Removal and Weed Prevention.

picture of the Common Spotted Orchid