Irish wildflowers

Early Purple Orchid, Orchis mascula, Magairlín meidhreach
Photos: Toomore, Co.Cork

Early Purple Orchid
Orchis mascula
Magairlín meidhreach
Family: Orchidaceae

Flowering April-June. Perennial. Native.

Loose spike of flowers, usually purple, sometimes pinkish or white. Broad lip, wavy, shallow-lobed, dark-spotted pale patch in centre. Central lobe narrow, notched. Side sepals erect, upper sepal forward arched forming loose hood with upper petals. Spur as long as ovary, upturned. Leaves usually spotted, blunt-tipped. 3-8 basal leaves, 2-3 stem leaves. Stem usually solid, 15-35cm.

Neutral or calcareous soils. Woods, roadsides, grassland, limestone pavements. Usually in small groups. Forms large colonies in the Burren, where the white form often occurs. Less frequent NW and E Ireland.

Early Purple Orchid. Toomore, Co.Cork. May 2008

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