Common Spotted-orchid - Dactylorhiza fuchsii

Alternative names
Common Spotted Orchid

Short to medium plant. Leaves 7 to 12 usually dark spotted. Bracts usually shorter than flowers. Flowers vary in colour from whitish. to reddish purple, the lip with deeper, looped line markings and spots. Lip 7 to 11 mm deeply 3 lobed.

Similar Species

This is a difficult genus that readily hybridises, leading to many intermediate forms; the species also exhibit a wide range of variation. Other Dactylorhiza in VC55 are Heath-spotted Orchid, Southern Marsh Orchid, Early Marsh Orchid, and hybrid between Common Spotted and Southern Marsh Orchids (D x grandis); other hybrids within Dactylorhiza are possible where both parents grow together. 

Note that Orchis mascula, the Early-purple Orchid, also has spotted leaves.

Identification difficulty
ID guidance

Stem solid; leaves nearly always spotted.  Labellum (lower lip) lobed c. half-way to base with central lobe usually longer than the two laterals and more than half as wide as them.  Flowers usually pale pink, but can be almost white, or darker pink.

Recording advice

A photograph showing details of flower and spotted leaves 


Grassy habitats and open woods.

When to see it

June to early August.

Life History


UK Status

Fairly frequent throughout Britain.

VC55 Status

Fairly frequent in Leicestershire and Rutland, and can be quite common in favoured locations. In the 1979 Flora survey of Leicestershire it was found in 91 of the 617 tetrads.

In the current checklist (Jeeves 2011) it is listed as occasional, but sometimes frequent where it occurs

Leicestershire & Rutland Map


Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

UK Map