This is truly an amazing wildflower and one to be viewed through the strongest lens possible – it is such a truly beautiful, superbly designed, brilliantly coloured plant. Even without a hand-lens, what is immediately obvious is the wonderful scattering of browny-purple spots all over the leaves and the bracts, very often both sides of the leaves being spotted in quite separate patterns (and not just spots showing through from the upperside of the leaves to the lower). The plant is quite erect, growing to over 30 cm at times, with a narrow upright bearing. The mauve flowers are borne in an erect spike, each having strong patterns of deeper mauve and purple squiggles on all of the petals. This handsome marsh-orchid flowers from May to July, only in a few parts of the west of Ireland and usually in marshes and by limestone lakes. It is a native plant which belongs to the Orchidaceae family.
I was so very fortunate to be shown this plant, growing in the Burren, by Dr Matthew Jebb, then Taxonomist, now Director of the National Botanic Gardens, Dublin on a wildflower walk organised by Burren Beo. This was in 2010 when I also photographed it.
If you are satisfied you have correctly identified this plant, please submit your sighting to the National Biodiversity Data Centre