Heath Spotted-orchid – Dactylorhiza maculata ssp. maculata
Heath Spotted-orchid is widespread from North Africa, across most of Europe and further east in the temperate zone of Siberia and across to Alaska. Norway has it all over the country from sea level to above the tree line, and it has found its niche in the nutrient-poor bogs that we have so many of our vast country. This is Norway’s most common orchid, and usually grows separate from D. fuchsii when they have different habitats. But in the mountains north we can find it in large quantities also in rich fens, and we find there more often hybrids with D. fuchsii and definitions becomes more confusing.
Heath Spotted-orchid is closely related to D. fuchsii and species can be difficult to distinguish from each other also for experienced botanists. Heath Spotted-orchid can be 50 cm high in the mountains. At the coast considerably shorter than in lowland forests. Leaves are bent out from the stem, and grey-green clearly paler on the bottom than on the upper side. The lower leaves are broadest towards the middle and dense with small spots on the upper side. Axis is pyramidal with tight flowers, and it is short compared to the plant height. Heath Spotted-orchid generally paler flower colour than D. fuchsii and Heath Spotted-orchid is the species that has the palest flowers of all species of the genus Dactylorhiza. The flowers are white to light violet with a darker violet pattern. The lip is wide and flat, three-lobed with middle lobe which is clearly less than flaps. Chromosome Numbers 2n = 80.
Heath Spotted-orchid has probably arisen through hybridization of D. fuchsii × D. incarnata. Earlier it was linked to many myths orchids medicinal properties, and especially for Heath Spotted-orchid. A myth was that it was a way to create love and lust. But this myth has enough originated in the genus Orchis with its tuberous roots similar to the testicles. Tubers have previously been used as mucosal drug and was used against enteritis and intoxications. Specifically, they are used against diarrhea toddlers. Tubers were sold in pharmacies until 1963. If you dig up a root, which you should not do, the one Knollen be light, the old dark. This was sometimes interpreted as the Virgin Mary’s hand and Devil’s hand.