Dactylorhiza traunsteinerioides - Narrow-leaved Marsh-orchid/Pugsley's Marsh-Orchid

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

Narrow-leaved Marsh-orchid


Pugsley's Marsh-orchid is a spindly plant growing to between 10 and 40cm in height. There are 3-5 narrow, unspotted leaves growing from the base of the plant. The upper part of the stem is washed purple, and the flower spike is small with relatively few (generally around 10) large flowers.The flowers are usually a purplish-pink colour and have pronounced darker markings consisting of spots and loops. The lip of the flower is three-lobed.

Notoriously difficult to indentify, this orchid isoften confused with small specimens of other orchids including Northern Marsh-orchid Dactylorhiza purpurella and Early Marsh-orchid Dactylorhiza incarnata.


This rare orchid is found in the British Isles in far-flung localised colonies. The Anglesey Fens National Nature Reserves in North Wales have a number of plants growing in very wet reed beds. The Burren in County Clare, Southern Ireland, is also a reliable place to find Dactylorhiza traunsteinerioides where it grows along with the Leopard Orchid Dactylorhiza incarnata subsp. cruenta.

A closeup picture of Narrow-leaved Marsh-orchid

A small inflorescence with a few large conspicuously marked flowers are typical of this rare orchid.


The Narrow-leaved Marsh-orchid growsin calcareous marshes and wet meadows. In the Anglesey Fens this orchid is able to survive because of the alkaline flushes which filter down through the limestone rocks in an otherwise acidic area.

Flowering times

In Wales the Narrow-leaved Marsh-orchid comes into flower at the same time as the Early Marsh-orchid Dactylorhiza incarnata. Late May and early June are the best times to see it in the Anglesey Fens, whereas in The Burren the Narrow-leaved Marsh-orchid usually flowers in early June.

Subspecies, Varieties and Hybrids

Dactylorhiza traunsteinerioides subsp. lapponica appears in Scotland.
Var. albiflora is rare and has white flowers.
Dactylorhiza x silvae-gabretae
is a hybrid with Common Spotted-orchid Dactylorhiza fuchsii and occurs in Yorkshire, Ireland and Anglesey.
Dactylorhiza x dufftii is a hybrid with Early Marsh-orchid Dactylorhiza incarnata and is found in North Wales.
x jenensis is a hybrid with Heath Spotted-orchid Dactylorhiza maculata and is found in North Wales, Ireland and Yorkshire.
Crosses with Southern Marsh-orchid Dactylorhiza praetermissa also occur freqently where the two species grow together.


The genus name Dactylorhiza means 'finger-like roots', while the specific epithet traunsteinerioides honours the botanist Joseph Traunsteiner (1798 - 1850).

Reference sources

The Plant List

Sue Parker (2016) Wild Orchids of Wales - how, when and where to find them; First Nature

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.


This page iuncludes pictures kindly contributed by Elaine Hagget.

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