One of the Spotted-orchids which are extremely variable, this perennial is found in marshes, fens, calcareous or neutral soils, roadsides and meadows. It stands about 50-60cm high, bearing its amazingly designed flowers in an open spike. Each flower has a distinctive trident-shaped lip with the central lobe being longer than those on either side. Sepals and petals create a hood over this, the pollinating insects' landing-pad. The large lip has a variety of spots, squiggles, flecks, streaks and dots. In bloom from May to August, these flowers can vary in colour from hues of palest pink to shades of purple. The flowers have slender spurs which taper and point downward. The lower leaves are narrow, lanceolate and usually spotted with smaller leaves clinging further up the stem. This is a native plant and it belongs to the Orchidaceae family.
I first spotted this Spotted-orchid in 1978 at 5-mile point in Co Wicklow. However I wasn't absolutely sure of its identification. However the photographs were all taken in the Burren in 2009 and Brendan Sayers confirmed my identification. For more on these and other orchids, have a look at a most beautifully produced book by Brendan Sayers and Susan Sex entitled 'Ireland's Wild Orchids'. Details can be found at www.orchidireland.ie
If you are satisfied you have correctly identified this plant, please submit your sighting to the National Biodiversity Data Centre