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


This species was first described from Kent,  England  in  1914  and  was named after the eminent German
botanist, Professor Fuchs. For many years it has been known commonly as the Common Spotted Orchid and 
will be familiar to any orchidologist who has studied the flora of alkaline grasslands in Northern Europe.

D. fuchsii is a widespread and abundant orchid wtih a distribution throughout temperate Europe, as far
as Siberia. It is a  member of the large D. maculata  group  and  although at first sight this species may be confused with its  close relative D. maculata, its favoured  habitat is significantly different and its this     preference that serves as the key distinguishing feature.  

Although both species may be found in damp or even wet areas, D. fuchsii  is an orchid of alkaline soils
whereas D. maculata is exclusively a plant of acidic or neutral substrates and unlike the former will rarely
be found in conditions that are subject to seasonal drying out. Apart from differences in the ecology of the  two species there are some physical features which serve to distinguish them and these include the more  slender,  pointed leaves and less centralised lip markings of D. maculata.  In the more westerly parts of their range the two species can be relatively easy to distinguish but in central and eastern areas there is greater convergence and some botanists decline to recognize any species separation.   

The  flowers of D. fuchsii are generally a light pink to dark lilac but are frequently of paler shades and        its by no means rare to find completely white examples. In the south of the species range, these white plants are considered to be occasional hypochromatic forms and not to be confused with D. okellyi  which occurs in Scotland and Ireland and currently maintains full species status. Morphologically they are difficult to separate and molecular analysis may yet downgrade D. okellyi.