Common spotted-orchid Dactylorhiza fuchsii

Status Green - Least concern
Best Time to See June, July, August
Colour Purple
Habitat Woodland, Grassland, Wetland

'They lean over the path, Adder-mouthed, Swaying close to the face, Coming out, soft and deceptive' - Theodore Roethke, Orchids

The UK's most common orchid (as its name suggests). The spires of the common-spotted orchid enliven many wild places, particularly chalk and limestone downs. The flowers themselves can vary from deep to light pink, but have distinctive darker pink to purple spots and stripes on their three-lobed lips. The flowers are densely packed in short, cone-shaped clusters. The leaves are marked with wide oval-shaped dark spots. They form a rosette at ground level before flower spikes appears. Narrower leaves sheath the stem.

It can sometimes be confused with its cousin, the heath spotted-orchid (Dactylorhiza maculata). The latter, however, is more of a pale purple colour and the spots on the leaves are round. Also the heath spotted-orchid has narrower leaves and its flowers have a more shallowly-lobed lip.


Apart from the Scottish Highlands, the common spotted-orchid is found throughout the UK


Damp grassland, open woods, scrub and fens (usually on chalky soil) as well as spoil-tips, railway embankments and old quarries.

Best time to see

When in flower, from June to August.

Did you know?

The common spotted-orchid is the County Flower of West Lothian/Linlithgowshire. Find out what your County Flower is by clicking here.

There are many local names for the Spotted orchids including Adam and Eve, Adder's Flower, Crow-foot, Curlie-Daddie (i.e. 'curly head'), Dead man's finger, Kettle-case, Old Woman's Pincushion and Ring-finger.

More meadow orchids: