Northern marsh orchid Dactylorhiza purpurella

Status Green - Least concern
Best Time to See May, June, July
Colour Purple
Habitat Coastal

Northern marsh orchid can be recognised by its vivid purple-violet flower colour, as well as by its lip marked with dark spots and lines that do not usually form loops. It is difficult to distinguish from other marsh orchids, such as Dactylorhiza praetermissa, and was not described as a separate species until 1920.


This orchid is predominantly found in the northern part of the UK extending from the West Wales coast and up into Scotland and the Western Isles. It is also found in Northern Ireland, but is rare and very localised in Southern Ireland.


Found in damp coastal dune slacks in Scotland and Wales. In the Outer Hebrides they grow in large colonies in the sea meadows (machair).

Best time to see

When it flowers from late May into July.