John and Gerry's    Orchids of Britain and Europe
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Dactylorhiza cruenta

D. cruenta was first described by O. F. Mueller from Roraas (Denmark) in 1782 and was allocated to the genus Orchis as O. cruenta. This was followed by a reconsideration which saw the plant reclassified as Dactylorhiza ssp cruenta and ultimately its promotion to full species status as D. cruenta. Its name literally translates to "bloody".

This is a member of the D. incarnata group and the plant in general but most particularly the structure of the flower, bears a close resemblance to that species. D. cruenta is however a taller and more robust plant with  flowers that are invariably purple and fewer in number. One of the key differentiating characteristics is leaf spotting which is usually strong in D. cruenta and absent in D. incarnata, this is not however a hard and fast rule.  These two species are regularly found growing in close association but although intermediates may occasionally be encountered, for the main part they appear to maintain their individual identities very successfully.

The distribution of D. cruenta is not fully understood but is well known from Scandinavia and the central European Alps, possibly ranging as far east as Russia. Its presence in Britain is not universally accepted but reliable records from Scotland date back to 1984 and more recently it has been reported from the coast of Lancashire in northern England. Sitings from Ireland have now been discounted as these are believed to refer to spotted leaf examples of D. pulchella. 

The pictures are from the French Alps and date from the 11th of July.