|John and Gerry's Orchids of Britain and Europe|
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Dactylorhiza coccinea x purpurella
D. coccinea was first described by Pugsley from Anglesey, North Wales in 1884 and its name refers
to to the scarlet colouration of the flowers.
The distribution of this species is restricted to the Irish Sea coasts of Britain and Ireland where it is
predominantly to be found in wet dune slacks and more rarely damp meadows. As with most species in
the genus, hybridization is frequent and in some populations there can be considerable ingression whichoften makes positive identification difficult. One of the more frequent crosses is that between
D. coccinea and D. purpurella and although this produces a range of intermediates, the latter's genetic
input seems to be the more dominant, certainly in terms of flower form and colouration.
This hybrid has a distribution that is (obviously) limited to the range of the parent species. As already
mentioned D. coccinea inhabits the North Sea coasts of Britain and Ireland and D. purpurella has an Atlantic distribution through Northern Britain, Holland and Scandinavia, this dictates therefore that D. coccinea x purpurella is restricted in range to the northern half of Britain and Ireland. This may well
change however with the discovery of D. purpurella in the dunes of Kenfig, South Wales (and just a few
other isolated sites away from the coast in southern England).
Given that D. coccinea is almost exclusively a coastal orchid the occurrence of hybrids will be similar
and accordingly the pictures here are from the sand dunes of Newborough Warren, North Wales and Sandscale in Cumberland. They date from the first week of July.