Dactylorhiza maculata

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.

Dactylorhiza maculata

8 responses to “Dactylorhiza maculata”

  1. Meg Bernstein

    Oh, an Irish orchid. Just about right on time for St. Patrick’s Day. Didn’t know there was such a thing. I bet fairies make all kinds of things out of them–like hats. Yoicks, listen to me!

  2. Quin

    encounter these way out on the lonely Burren with enchanted springs, leftover homesteads, fairies, and lotsa wildflowers….

  3. elizabeth a airhart

    and the witches make brew
    and venus and the kings evil
    and the 1900s write very well
    call up the fairys me needs a basin

  4. Cambree

    Such a cute little flower in the middle of the field.
    I love Ireland too!

  5. Kathleen Garness

    Actually Ireland is quite rich in native orchids, or used to be. I don’t know how many native species there are right now, but wouldn’t be surprised to see in excess of a dozen on their list. 😉

  6. Douglas Justice

    “Verticillaster” describes whorled dichasia at the nodes of an elongate rachis. Does “fancy helicoid cyme infloresence” describe the symmetry of a dichasium?

  7. Dee

    Gorgeous, Ruth! Thank you for all the work you do for our enjoyment.

  8. Carolyn Liesy

    Not only do I love the pictures but the language – wow! Where do you hear phrases like “a fancy helicoid cyme infloresence common in the Lamiaceae.”

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