Dactylorhiza Necker ex Nevski 1937, is a genus of terrestrial (ground-dwelling) plants in the orchid family (Orchidaceae).
The name Dactylorhiza is derived from Greek words δάκτυλος "daktylos" (finger) and ρίζα "rhiza" (root), referring to the palmately two- to five-lobed tubers of this genus. Dactylorhiza were previously classified under Orchis which has two round tubers .
These orchids are distributed throughout the subarctic and temperate northern hemisphere : in Europe, from Scandinavia to North Africa; also on Madeira, Iceland, West Asia, North Asia, the Himalayas, North America and even in Alaska.
These terrestrial orchids grow in basic soils in wet meadows, bogs, heathland and in areas sparsely populated by trees. They are tuberous geophytes. In a thickened underground stem, they can store a large amount of water to survive arid conditions.
The long leaves are lanceolate and, in most species, also speckled. They grow along a rather long stem which reaches a height of 70-90 cm. Leaves higher on the stem are shorter than leaves lower on the stem.
The inflorescence, compared to the length of the plant, is rather short. It consists of a compact raceme with 25-50 flowers. These develop from axillary buds. The dominant colors are all shades of pink to red, sprinkled with darker speckles.
Many 'species' in this genus hybridise so readily that species boundaries themselves are vague, with regular name changes and no clear answers. A few species colonise very well onto fresh industrial wastes such as pulverised fuel ash, where vast hybrid swarms can appear for a decade or more, before ecological succession replaces them.
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