Dactylorhiza fuchsii x Dactylorhiza purpurella - Dactylorhiza x venusta
(Hybrid between Common Spotted-orchid and Northern Marsh-orchid)

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

Dactylorhiza x venusta

Dactylorhiza x venusta, a hybrid between the Common Spotted-orchid Dactylorhiza fuchsii and the Northern Marsh-orchid Dactylorhiza purpurella.

To find a recognisable orchid hybrid in the wild is exciting, but they are sometimes difficult to identify accurately because, even in relatively small groups of a single species, there can be considerable variation in the appearance of the flowers relating to shape, size, and most confusing of all, lip pattern and form.

Closeup of flowers, Dactylorhiza x venusta

Above: closeup of the hybrid between Common Spotted-orchid and Northern Marsh-orchid

This robust and brightly coloured hybrid orchid can be found in many of the coastal habitats where Northern Marsh-orchid and Common Spotted-orchid occur. In Wales two good nature reserves to visit to see this lovely flower are Cors Dyfi (Ynyslas dunes system near Borth) and Newborough Warren in Anglesey. It is also found inland where ground is sufficiently marshy to support Dactylorhiza purpurella.

Dactylorhiza x venusta and both of its parent species

Above: 1 - Common Spotted-orchid. 2 - Hybrid between Common Spotted-orchid and Northern Marsh-orchid. 3 - Northern Marsh-orchid.

This hybrid is unusual in that the flowers do not strongly resemble either parent and this makes the accurate identification rather difficult.


The genus name Dactylorhiza means 'finger-like roots', while the hybrid epithet venusta means 'beautiful' or 'charming'.

Reference sources

Sue Parker (2023) Wild Orchids of Wales - how, when and where to find them; First Nature e-book (Amazon Kindle format)

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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