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Dactylorhiza - Marsh Orchids

Dactylorhiza (Marsh Orchids) are deciduous tuberous terrestrial orchids with lance-shaped leaves sometimes spotted with burgundy, and showy terminal spikes crowded with purple, pink or white flowers. Because of their spectacular colorful inflorescences and their relative ease of cultivation, Marsh Orchids are the most widely grown European orchids. Usually found growing in marshes, grasslands or woodlands, they are a wonderful source of bright color for partly shaded woodlands, rock gardens or meadows. They do well in damp soils, but not waterlogged, that are rich in humus.

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Dactylorhiza (Marsh Orchids)

Dactylorhiza (Marsh Orchids) are deciduous terrestrial orchids boasting lance-shaped leaves, sometimes spotted with burgundy, and showy terminal spikes crowded with purple, pink or white flowers in spring and summer. Because of their spectacular colorful inflorescences and their relative ease of cultivation, Marsh Orchids are the most widely grown European orchids. Marsh Orchids are very cold-hardy and do not require any special protection in winter. They can be grown outside in zones 5 through 8, depending on species.

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Dactylorhiza elata (Robust Marsh Orchid)

Dactylorhiza elata (Robust Marsh Orchid) is a tuberous terrestrial orchid boasting flamboyant spikes, 8 in. long (20 cm), crowded with reddish-purple flowers, 1 in. across (2.5 cm). Blooming from late spring to early summer, the blossoms are borne atop stems bearing narrowly oblong leaves, 6-10 in. long (15-25 cm), spotted with burgundy and arranged spirally along the stems.

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Dactylorhiza foliosa (Madeira Orchid)

Dactylorhiza foliosa (Madeira Orchid) is a tuberous terrestrial orchid boasting flamboyant spikes, 5 in. long (12 cm), crowded with bright rosy-purple flowers, 1 in. across (2.5 cm), with contrasting speckles on the lips. Blooming from late spring to early summer, the blossoms are borne atop stems clad with lustrous, lance-shaped leaves, 4-8 in. long (10-20 cm), arranged spirally along the stems.

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Dactylorhiza fuchsii (Common Spotted Orchid)

Dactylorhiza fuchsii (Common Spotted Orchid) is a tuberous terrestrial orchid boasting showy spikes crowded with up to 20-70 purple, pink or white flowers. The petals are decorated with beautiful patterns of dark-red dots, dashes and loops. Blooming from late spring to early summer, the blossoms are borne atop erect, pale green stems, flushed purple towards the top. The lance-shaped green leaves are usually profusely marked with dark spots and blotches.

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Dactylorhiza maculata (Heath Spotted Orchid)

Dactylorhiza maculata (Heath Spotted Orchid) is a tuberous terrestrial orchid boasting showy spikes, 2-4 in. long (5-10 cm), crowded with white, pink, pale purple or purplish red flowers. The petals are decorated with beautiful patterns of dark streaks and spots. Blooming from mid spring to late summer, the blossoms are borne atop erect, glabrous and cylindrical stems. The lance-shaped, mid-green leaves may display brown or purple spots on the surface, hence the species name.

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Dactylorhiza majalis (Western Marsh Orchid)

Dactylorhiza majalis (Western Marsh Orchid) is a tuberous terrestrial orchid boasting beautiful spikes densely packed with up to 50 purple flowers with white markings. Blooming from late spring to mid summer, they are borne atop a hollow stem, the lowest blossoms usually opening even before the stem has reached its full height. The foliage of 4 to 10 fleshy, ovate, green leaves is almost always adorned with burgundy blotches.

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Dactylorhiza purpurella (Northern Marsh Orchid)

Dactylorhiza purpurella (Northern Marsh Orchid) is a tuberous terrestrial orchid boasting showy spikes, often with a flattened top, and crowded with deep rich magenta flowers. The petals are decorated with beautiful patterns of magenta-red and the lips are distinctly angular, almost diamond-shaped. Blooming from late spring to early summer, the blossoms are borne atop erect stems above the foliage of lance-shaped green leaves that are usually unmarked or sometimes faintly marked.

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