Scotland has many different orchids from the tiny green Bog Orchid to the Impressive Broad-leaved Helleborine. Particularly along the west coast it is possible to find one with strongly patterned purple flowers and big dark blotches on its leaves. The dark purple pigment is also found in the upper parts of the stem.
For a considerable time this was thought to be the same as a Scandinavian plant called Lapland Marsh-orchid, but detailed studies have suggested that these plants belong with Narrow-leaved Marsh-orchids found further south in the British Isles, the marking and pigmentation getting more extreme the further northwest they grow.
Wherever the plant taxonomists eventually decide to place them, they are highly attractive plants and can be found flowering in June and August in otherwise unexceptional areas of moorland.
Dr Stephen J Bungard
Botanical Society of Britain & Ireland Recorder for Skye, Raasay & The Small Isles