Plant Profiles Heath Spotted Orchid

Orchids are quite an incredibly diverse and stunning group of flowering plant. Orchids require specific conditions in order to grow aren’t found everywhere. They like certain habitats. Numerous species of orchid exist and many hybrids have been created. One of these species of orchid is the heath spotted orchid (dactylorhiza maculata).

Heath spotted orchid – (picture link)       

The heath spotted orchid grows to average heights of 6 to 18 inches with some orchids reaching taller heights of 28 inches. The green leaves of the orchid are oblong or oval lance-shaped leaves and they have dark oval-shaped spots covering their surface. The leaves are commonly found at the base of the plant but some do form higher up on the stem. The stem of this orchid has a streaked surface.

Underneath the stem are two tubers that are divided into smaller tubercles. One tuber is responsible for supplying the current plant with nutrients. The second collects nutrients and other materials for the development of the stem and plant which will form the following year after winter is over.

Flowering of the heath spotted orchid is in a cluster of about six inches at the stem. The flowers are on spikes that come from the stem and the color can be a light pink to white. The flowers also have either dark streaks or have pink spots on them. These flowers are pollinated by insects, specifically bumblebees. Blossoming occurs for this orchid around the month of June.

Growing conditions

The heath spotted orchid is named for the area that it typically grows in which is heathland but also bogs and marshland. Heathland is the name of an area that is categorized by low shrubs and very poor acid soils where it is difficult to grow anything. This orchid actually prefers the acidic soils of the heathland and other similar areas but it can grow in limestone containing soils were other orchids are more typically found. It also likes sunny places which are in hills or lowlands or even dry forests. It can grow up to 7,200 feet above sea level and is commonly found in mountainous areas all over Europe and northern areas of Asia.

Identifying it

The heath spotted orchid can be difficult to distinguish from the common spotted orchid because they are so similar have only slight variations. Identifying between the two can be even more difficult as they tend to grow near each other and the creation of hybrids is common.