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Dactylorhiza coccinea


   
D. coccinea was first described by Pugsley from Anglesey, Wales in 1884 at which time it was referred to as Orchis latifolia ssp coccinea. Pugsley then reclassified the plant as Dacylorhiza incarnata ssp coccinea  and in more recent times it has been accorded full species status, though this is not a view shared by all authorities, some of whom prefer retention of a subspecific position.  The name "coccinea" refers 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 growing in wet dune slacks and more rarely damp meadows. As with most species    in the genus, hybridization is frequent and genetic ingression can often make certain identification rather  difficult. In general terms however, the bright scarlet colouration tends to be retained, albeit in various degrees of dilution. In its pure form D. coccinea is a squat plant with thick, closely layered leaves that arch from the lower stem and with purple or dark green/purple bracts,  unlike those of D. incarnata which are usually pale green or only lightly washed brown.
  
Although the species has such a  limited  and localised  distribution, it can be abundant in its preferred locations, where in some sand dune systems, particularly around the Welsh coastline, it can often be found in huge numbers, usually amongst equally large numbers of several other Dactylorhiza  species and the inevitable intermediate swarm. The pictures are from Braunton Burrows, Somerset and Kenfig, Glamorgan, dating from the first week of June.