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Dactylorhiza incarnata ssp lobelii

D. incarnata was first described from Uppsala, Sweden in 1755 and its name refers to the flesh coloured
flowers. This colouration, although most common, is not diagnostic in itself and variations from dark pink
to lilac and even yellow or white examples have been found on rare occasions. D. incarnata is a relatively stable orchid and its only these colour morphs that create any confusion with identification. Some of these forms have received named recognition, including D. incarnata v ochrantha which is a rare pale yellow variation which can be found growing alongside its more normally coloured relatives throughout their range. 

A further variation, D. incarnata v lobelii was first recognized by Vermeulen in 1949 and subsequently promoted to subspecific rank by Pedersen in 2001. It is a squat, sturdy variant rarely growing to more than 20cms, with broadly lanceolate leaves that are closely spaced and strongly arching. Colouration is typically light pink as in the nominate species and represented here by pictures one and two, there is however a form that closely resembles the darker red hues of D. coccinea. This was formally named D. incarnata ssp lobelii f dunensis by Delforge in 2011 and photographs three to seven depict this form.

Whilst both these taxons can be readily identified in their typical form, it is not difficult to find examples of plants that do not quite conform to type and which show significant variation in either height or colour. The final picture depicts a group of plants which illustrate this point very well. This subspecies is at its most frequent in the coastal sand dunes of the Netherlands and eastern Norway but exists in modest numbers in suitable systems in southern Britain, notably the Kenfig Nature Reserve in south Wales. The pictures are all from south Wales and date from the first three weeks of June.