If you would like to read my Dorset nature notes about any of these featured species or sites please click on the post title

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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

06 May, 2014

Early purple orchid: as it says on the label ...

There is undoubtedly something special about orchids, they are quite dramatic flowers compared to many of our other native species. 
As it's name suggests the early purple orchid (Orchis mascula) is one of the earliest orchids to flower; flowering from April through until June depending on location and the weather. They are usually in fine flower at Durlston National Nature Reserve in April and early May. The early purple orchid is quite catholic in habitat choice, it being found both on grassland and in woodland, especially along woodland rides where there is plenty of light. It can sometimes occur on roadside verges.
 
It is a tall species with multiple  lobed purple flower heads appearing along a central stem, like many such flowers they open from the bottom upwards. The leaves are lomg and pointed (lanceolate) and are at the base of the stem, they can sometimes be spotted or blotched so take care not to confuse them with other spotted species.
 
It is not really common in Dorset but it is widespread and can be found almost anywhere that conditions are right.

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