Little plants series – Dactylorhiza alpestris

“The garden is a strange mix of the inevitable and the unexpected…”

Quite a few years ago I bought a D. alpestris in the idea to try to grow an orchid (preferably an alpine one), although I didn’t have the right conditions. It flowered weekly one year and then it disappeared under the mass of other plants and from my mind – inevitable.
Last year when digging out the garden, I found a little ‘child-hand’ like tuber (Simpson style) which is unmistakable of a Dactylorhiza; hmmm – unexpected.

Dactylorhiza alpestris tuber

Dactylorhiza alpestris tuber

Overwintered in an outside container over the past gruesome winter, it showed up timidly in late spring and now is flowering: nice, strong, purple-spotted flowers – another unexpected. Few pictures for remembering, until the next inevitable…

Dactylorhiza alpestris close up

Dactylorhiza alpestris
Dactylorhiza alpestris – a miniature to small size terrestrial orchid, which can be found in the wild from Spain, France, Germany to Italy and Yugoslavia. It grows in full sun, usually in moist paces; it can be found at elevations from 1500-2600 m.

D. alpestris (Pugsley) Verm. 1847, has so many synonyms that I don’t dare to say anything more, and it should have spotted leaves; mine doesn’t but everything else looks fine (3 t o 5 oval to elliptical, sometimes almost orbicular, spotted leaves with the uppermost 1 to 2 being bract-like, that blooms in the late spring and summer on an erect, terminal, 10 – 20 cm long, racemose, cylindrical inflorescence with leaf like bracts and many flowers).
Syn. Dactylorhiza fistulosa subsp. alpestris; Dactylorhiza latifolia subsp. alpestris; Dactylorhiza latifolia var. pinguis, and many more…

4 replies
    • diversifolius
      diversifolius says:

      Thank you, but I really have no merit whatsoever for this little Dactylorhiza being alive and flowering.

    • diversifolius
      diversifolius says:

      If to grow at high altitude this Dactylorhiza would have been more intense in colour; the ultraviolet rays are stronger, colours are absorbed differently, more oxygen, low pressure – everything is more intense up the mountain…

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