|John and Gerry's Orchids of Britain and Europe|
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Dactylorhiza purpurella x ericetorum
D. purpurella was first described by Stephenson and Stephenson from North Wales in 1920 and its name
refers to the characteristic purplish colour of the inflorescence. Its common name is the Northern Marsh Orchid.
Its range is restricted to the Atlantic shores of Northern Europe from Britain through to Denmark and Scandinavia. Recent research has now determined that in the UK the species has a more southerly distribution than had originally been thought and it has recently been found that D. purpurella, already widely known from North Wales, is also well established (albeit in limited numbers) on some dune systems in South Wales and in just a few outposts in southern England.
Hybridization between D. purpurella and other members of the genus is common, but given their generally different habitat requirements, a union with D. ericetorum is less well recorded. D. purpurella is largely a
species of the north of England and the more recently discovered sites further south are of a predominantly neutral or weakly alkaline nature which would not be at all attractive to D. ericetorum. The range of potential for this hybrid is therefore northern England and Scotland together with similarly suitable sites in Denmark and southern Scandinavia.
The flowering periods of the two parent species coincide very closely with June and July being the optimum months and perhaps into August in the far north of their range. The plants illustrated here are from the Cumbrian Fells of northern England, dating from the 9th of July.