Dactylorhiza kerryensis - Irish Marsh-orchid

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

Irish Marsh-orchid

Another orchid that is difficult to identify. It is recorded in Ireland and is sometimes referred to as Dactylorhiza occidentalis.


This is another robust-looking marsh-orchid, and there is much argument about its range due to confusion with other orchids including the Early Marsh-orchid. The flowers have broader and flatter lips that often have three rather pronounced lobes, whereas the lips of the Early Marsh-orchid are folded back on themselves.


This orchid is endemic to Ireland, where the extent of its distribution is much disputed.

The Western Marsh-orchid Dactylorhiza majalis is recorded in Europe from Northern Spain, as far north as southern Scandinavia, and into central Europe including Slovenia


The Irish Marsh-orchid favours neutral or slightly alkaline soils and is found on the edges of loughs, in dune slacks and in damp hollows in short-sward grassland.

Flowering times

The Irish Marsh Orchid flowers in May and June.

The specimen above was photographed in the Burren on the shore of Lough Bunny in mid-June.

Reference sources

The Plant List

Sue Parker (2009) Wild Orchids in The Burren; First Nature

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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