Dactylorhiza fuchsii subsp. okellyi - O'Kelly's Spotted-orchid

Phylum: Magnoliophyta - Class: Liliopsida - Order: Orchidales - Family: Orchidaceae

Dactylorhiza fuchsii subsp. okellyi, O'Kelly's Spotted-orchid

Dr Patrick Bernard O'Kelly, after whom this orchid was named, lived in The Burren and devoted much of his time to the study of the wildflowers growing there. After his death in 1937 he was buried in the graveyard at Dumcreedy Church, near Ballyvaughan.

This controversial orchid is treated as a separate species by some botanists and by others as an indeterminate variety of Common Spotted-orchid Dactylorhiza fuchsii.

O'Kelly's Spotted-orchid is common throughout The Burren and reaches its peak flowering time in June and early July


O'Kelly's Orchid usually grows to between 20 and 50 cm in height, buttaller specimens sometimes occur. The leaves are narrower than those of Common Spotted-orchid and they are not marked.

The flowers O'Kelly's Spotted-orchid are often completely white, although some have faint pink markings.

Closeup of flowers of Dactylorhiza fuchsii subsp. okellyi


Although mainly associated with The Burren, this orchid occurs in several other counties of Ireland including Galway and Fermanagh as well as in Scotland and on the Isle of Man.


O'Kelly's Spotted-orchid (also referred to simply as O'Kelly's Orchid) grows in the unimproved limestone meadows of The Burren, but it sometimes ventures into marshier areas there too.

Flowering times

Dactylorhiza fuchsii subsp. okellyi flowers in May and June.


The genus name Dactylorhiza means 'finger-like roots', while the specific epithet fuchsii honours the German botanist Leonhart Fuchs (1501 - 1566). The subspecies name okellyi honours botanist Dr Patrick Bernard O'Kelly (187* - 1937) - precise date of birth uncertain.

Reference sources

The Plant List

Anne and Simon Harrap (2005) Orchids of Britain and Ireland; A&C Black

Pierre Delforge (2005) Orchids of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East; A&C Black

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