Flowers in a loose spike, usually purple but can be pink or occasionally white. Sepals form hood, parallel green-purplish veins. Lip broad, bluntly 3-lobed, crimson spots. Glossy green leaves, unspotted. Lower leaves in rosette, upper sheathing.
Grows on base-rich to slightly acidic soils. Grassland, dunes, heaths, roadsides.
Locally frequent, but decreasing. Endangered species.
Similar: Early Purple Orchid, O. mascula
Photographs above: Co.Cork. April 2007