Heath Spotted-orchid - Dactylorhiza maculata

Alternative names
Heath Spotted Orchid

Similar in many respects to Common Spotted-orchid though not as robust. Also the lower lip of the flower is broad and only slightly 3 lobed. The leaves are usually marked with circular spots and mainly have pointed tips.

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 Common 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.

Identification difficulty
ID guidance

Stem solid; leaves nearly always spotted; spots often more or less circular.  Labellum (lower lip) lobed much less than half-way to base with central lobe as long as or shorter than the two laterals and much less than half as wide as them.

Recording advice

A photograph showing details of flower and spotted leaves


Found in damp places on acid peat soils.

When to see it

Flowers June to August.

Life History


UK Status

Widespread and fairly frequent in Britain.

VC55 Status

Local in Leicestershire and Rutland, but can be fairly frequent in suitable locations. In the 1979 Flora survey of Leicestershire it was found in 15 of the 617 tetrads.

In the current checklist (Jeeves 2011) it is listed as subsp. ericetorum; Native, from 60+ localities; now scarce.

It is on the VC55 Rare Plant Register

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Leicestershire & Rutland Map


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

UK Map