Heath Spotted Orchid

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A good friend and fellow plant enthusiast took us orchid hunting yesterday in some nearby woods. There are a few species that grow wild in our area and she knew how much I love wildflowers — the notion of seeing an orchid in situ was very exciting! Southern Finland doesn’t have as many as the northern parts of the country, due to human development of the land, but older patches of woods still are host to plenty of interesting plants. Growing up, there aren’t very many naturally-occurring orchids in Southern California because of the arid climate, so the idea of just going out and looking for these things never even crossed my mind.

The Heath Spotted Orchid (Dactylorhiza maculata) is a tiny thing (I think this one was only a little taller than my fully outstretched hand) and it was hiding in a shady spot further back from the road, so it’s no wonder I never saw it before. As you can see from the flower spike, it definitely has classic orchid shape and structure. This one also had a light scent, which was a nice surprise. There is a bit of confusion and hybridization between the Dactylorhiza species, but I’m going to stick to my identification of this one as maculata on the strength of it growing in acid soil and it being the most common species in Finland.

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Little spotted leaves 🙂 We are going to do a few other forest walks in the next few weeks, since the summer weather has finally arrived. Looking forward to finding more little gems like this guy here!

 

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