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Synonyms: Orchis maculata.
Common Names: Heath spotted-orchid or Moorland spotted orchid
Habitat : Dactylorhiza maculata is native to W. Europe in Britain and France, north through Germany ad Belgium to Scandanavia. It grows in moist acid peaty substrata throughout the British Isles.
Dactylorhiza maculata is a herbaceous perennial orchid plant.It reaches on average 15–45 centimetres (5.9–17.7 in) of height, with a maximum of 70 centimetres (28 in). These plants are bulbous geophytes, forming their buds in underground tubers or bulbs, organs that annually produce new stems, leaves and flowers. Furthermore these orchids are “terrestrial”, because unlike “epiphyte” species they do not live at the expense of other large plants.
This orchid has an erect, glabrous and cylindrical stem, with a streaked surface. The leaves are oblong or oval-lanceolate, with dark ellipsoid-shaped “spots” on the surface (hence the species name). The leaves are amplexicaul and can be either radical (basal) or cauline.
The underground part of the stem has two webbed tubers each one more or less deeply divided into several lobes or tubercles (characteristic of the genus Dactylorhiza), the first one plays the important functions of supplying the stem, while the second one collects nutrient materials for the development of the plant that will form in the coming year.
The inflorescence is 5–15 centimetres (2.0–5.9 in) long and it is composed of flowers gathered in dense spikes. The flowers are placed in the axils of bracts membranous and lanceolate-shaped. Their colors vary from light pink to purple or white with darker streaks mainly on the labellum (sometimes at the margins of tepals). The flowers reaches on average 10–15 centimetres (3.9–5.9 in). The flowers are hermaphrodite and pollinated by insects, especially bumblebees. However the seeds germination is conditioned by the presence of specific fungi.
Succeeds in most soils, but it prefers a moist loam and lots of leaf mould. Requires a deep rich soil. Grows well in full sun or partial shade, doing well in a woodland garden. Orchids are, in general, shallow-rooting plants of well-drained low-fertility soils. Their symbiotic relationship with a fungus in the soil allows them to obtain sufficient nutrients and be able to compete successfully with other plants. They are very sensitive to the addition of fertilizers or fungicides since these can harm the symbiotic fungus and thus kill the orchid. This symbiotic relationship makes them very difficult to cultivate, though they will sometimes appear uninvited in a garden and will then thrive. Transplanting can damage the relationship and plants might also thrive for a few years and then disappear, suggesting that they might be short-lived perennials. Cultivated plants are very susceptible to the predation of slugs and snails. Plants can succeed in a lawn in various parts of the country. The lawn should not be mown early in the year before or immediately after flowering. Plant out bulbs whilst the plant is dormant, preferably in the autumn. Bulbs can also be transplanted with a large ball of soil around the roots when they are in leaf, they are impatient of root disturbance.
Seed – surface sow, preferably as soon as it is ripe, in the greenhouse and do not allow the compost to dry out. The seed of this species is extremely simple, it has a minute embryo surrounded by a single layer of protective cells. It contains very little food reserves and depends upon a symbiotic relationship with a species of soil-dwelling fungus. The fungal hyphae invade the seed and enter the cells of the embryo. The orchid soon begins to digest the fungal tissue and this acts as a food supply for the plant until it is able to obtain nutrients from decaying material in the soil. It is best to use some of the soil that is growing around established plants in order to introduce the fungus, or to sow the seed around a plant of the same species and allow the seedlings to grow on until they are large enough to move. Division of the tubers as the flowers fade. This species produces a new tuber towards the end of its growing season. If this is removed from the plant as its flowers are fading, the shock to the plant can stimulate new tubers to be formed. The tuber should be treated as being dormant, whilst the remaining plant should be encouraged to continue in growth in order to give it time to produce new tubers. Division can also be carried out when the plant has a fully developed rosette of leaves but before it comes into flower. The entire new growth is removed from the old tuber from which it has arisen and is potted up, the cut being made towards the bottom of the stem but leaving one or two roots still attached to the old tuber. This can often be done without digging up the plant. The old tuber should develop one or two new growths, whilst the new rosette should continue in growth and flower normally
Edible Uses: ….Root – cooked. It is a source of ‘salep‘, a fine white to yellowish-white powder that is obtained by drying the tuber and grinding it into a powder. Salep is a starch-like substance with a sweetish taste and a faint somewhat unpleasant smell. It is said to be very nutritious and is made into a drink or can be added to cereals and used in making bread etc. One ounce of salep is said to be enough to sustain a person for a day.
Salep is very nutritive and demulcent. It has been used as a diet of special value for children and convalescents, being boiled with water, flavoured and prepared in the same way as arrowroot. Rich in mucilage, it forms a soothing and demulcent jelly that is used in the treatment of irritations of the gastro-intestinal canal. One part of salep to fifty parts of water is sufficient to make a jelly. The tuber, from which salep is prepared, should be harvested as the plant dies down after flowering and setting seed