British flora, British orchids, Dactylorhiza incarnata, Dactylorhiza praetermissa, Dactylorhiza purpurella, Early Marsh-orchid, Kenfig National Nature Reserve, native orchids, Northern Marsh-orchid, orchid, Southern marsh orchid
Apart from 18 species of rust, there wasn’t a lot of fungi to be found during our foray at Kenfig National Nature Reserve last Saturday but what we did see was a lot of stunning marsh orchids.
Identifying these beauties can be extremely tricky, even for trained botanists, partly because they look very similar, partly because their colouration can vary quite a lot within species, and partly because they hybridise easily with each other. So, although the chances are that these are Southern Marsh-orchids (Dactylorhiza praetermissa), there may also be some Northern Marsh-orchids (Dactylorhiza purpurella) or a mixture of both. Whatever they are, they’re beautiful!
I am, however, quite sure about these next pictures. These are Early Marsh-orchids (Dactylorhiza incarnata). They thrive in damp calcareous habitats so the dune systems at Kenfig suit them perfectly – or, at least they will as long as the dune systems are managed to prevent scrub and trees taking hold: the orchids actually grow best when wind and rain are allowed to destabilise the dunes and move sand and plants around a bit.