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

This species was first described as Orchis lapponica from Arjeplog, Lapland by Laestadius in 1840. It was however subsequently reclassified as D. lapponica and is a member of the D. majalis group of the genus Dactylorhiza.

Commonly known as the Lapland Orchid, it is a widespread species being found from Scandinavia in the north, to the Alps and Dolomites in the south. In the mountains, it tends to occur primarily in foothills and lower slopes between 500 and 1000 metres, though it has been recorded at much higher altitudes among the true alpines (in Scandinavia it occurs at sea level). D. lapponica was once thought to grow in Scotland but a 2012 study determined these populations had been misidentified and have now been placed in the D. traunsteineri group as D. traunsteineroides subsp francis-drucei.

The Lapland Orchid is a diverse species, which as with many of its genus can show some regional variation, this being attibutable to the influence of neighbouring Dactylorhiza species. In the south of its range where D. majalis and D. alpestris are the dominant dactylorchids, D lapponica tends to be sturdier, with a less lax inflorescence containing more flowers. Typically however, it is a short plant, with a strong, ridged stem that is washed purple in its upper half. Leaves may be broadly or narrowly lanceolate, always held erect and always spotted, sometimes heavily so. Flowers are strongly coloured magenta to purple, three lobed, with a tooth like median lobe and lateral lobes folded back. The stigmatic surface and central lip are bright white and the lip heavily marked with vivid, dark red dots, streaks and loops which can often extend to the perianth. The photos are from south eastern France dating from the last week of June.