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

This species was first described by Druce from Southern England in 1914 and was originally named Orchis praetermissa. Its name means "neglected". Its common name is the Southern Marsh Orchid.

D. praetermissa is basically a plant of the North Sea and English Channel coasts and is probably at its
most frequent in the dune systems of the south of England and Wales. In Britain the species is gradually replaced as it travels northwards by D. purpurella, although there is a significant overlap in range and
there are several areas (notably in Wales) where the two species can be found growing side by side. The range of D. praetermissa includes the Low Countries, Denmark, northern and central France as far east as  Germany. Its preferred habitat is wet dune slacks but it can also be found in both neutral fens, damp meadows and surprisingly, though rarely, short calcareous grassland. The precise limits of its
distribution are uncertain due to the species enthusiasm for gene sharing and consequent confusion over

This is an extremely variable, polymorphic species which is frequently introgressed by other members
of the genus and particularly D. maculata  and D. fuchsii. In its typical form it's a robust orchid with
a hollow stem that's compressible when gently squeezed. The strongly keeled leaves are usually unspotted  (except in variety junialis) and form a fan at the base. Flower colouration varies from pale lilac to dark pink and lip markings are normally relatively subtle spots or stripes. Where these markings appear more extravagant the possibility of introgression should be considered.

The photographs are from Braunton Burrows, Somerset and Kenfig, Glamorgan, dating from the end of
May to the middle of June.    

The following pictures depict examples of D. praetermissa plants that come from a small but interesting colony growing on lowland heath at the edge of the New Forest in Dorset (England). Some of the plants can display a light spotting of the leaves and its suspected that historic introgression with D. maculata may be the  origin of the variation. If this is the case, the effect of back crossing has been to completely subsume the D. maculata which cannot be found for miles around. The hybrid of D. praetermissa and D. maculata is named D. x hallii but what we see here is not a  straightforward hybridization event.