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Orchid group branded 'promiscuous'

Greetings again from Orchid Meadows in West Wales where the pretty orchid Dactylorhiza maculate subspecies ericetorum has been receiving some well deserved attention, including up to 1000 hits on Facebook!


Doug Lloyd, Conservation Officer with the South and West Wales Wildlife Trust, has been in touch to add his thoughts to the discussion. He says the orchid genus Dactylorhiza is full of awkward hybrids and subspecies and being precise about the identity of a plant can be difficult. Indeed, sometimes the only sure way to tell things apart is through genetic analysis.


This can cloud the picture regarding some of Britain’s most common orchids, including common spotted, heath spotted, early marsh, southern marsh and northern marsh.

Doug points out that this ‘blending’ within the Dactylorhiza group is the perfect example of how nature continues to evolve when given the chance. These orchids are a fairly ‘young’ group of species, so genetically they still have the ability to breed with similar species. Some botanists would say they are promiscuous.

Older-lived species cannot do this and in a way have become something of a genetic dead end with little more evolution to come. Fascinating stuff!


Orchid Meadows is managed in consultation with the South and West Wales Wildlife Trust and Doug has been a big help in fine tuning how we do things here.


If you would like to see the orchids for yourself, the best way is to book a stay here in Tawny Cottage, Red Kite Yurt or Goldfinch Glampavan for June or early July. Visit for details!

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