Ruth Sanborn is responsible for today’s write-up:
My father, George F. Sanborn Jr., is the photographer of this cute flower. Thanks dad! It was taken on his trip to Ireland in 1975 in an open field (this image is a scan of a faded print). Upon initial analysis, I thought this was a member of the Lamiaceae. Only after Douglas Justice pointed out that the flowers were not in a verticillaster (
a fancy helicoid cyme common in the Lamiaceae a whorl of flowers apparently of one cluster, but composed of two opposite axillary cymes) did we re-examine it and determine its identity.
Dactylorhiza maculata, or the heath-spotted orchid, is a source of salep, a demulcent (or film-forming substance). It is used to soothe gastrointestinal discomfort, as it coats the organs in a mucilaginous film — similar to that of arrowroot, Maranta arundinacea.
The genus Dactylorhiza contains only terrestrial orchids (that is, none are epiphytic). Many of them are also tuberous. They are commonly cultivated in home gardens.