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Early Marsh Orchid

As the name suggests, this orchid grows in marshes and damp grassland scattered throughout the moorlands and uplands of Scotland. Incarnata means flesh-coloured, and the petals of this flower often appear that way, though there are many sub species of this flower which manifest in several shades between pink and purple. Occasionally you might find a completely white one. 

Stems are upright, thick and hollow, and often with a purplish tinge near the top. Leaves are narrow and strap-like. They grow alternately, mostly near the bottom of the stem and growing smaller towards the top. Leaves are stalk-less with the leaf base wrapping itself around the stem, similar to a tulip leaf. 

The flowerhead is a dense spike of between 10 and 40 flowers. Each flower has a shallowly 3-lobed lower petal, and an upper petal with 3 deep lobes, with the 2 side lobes of the upper petal having a winged appearance. The petals are marked with dots and/or loops of a darker hue to the rest of the flower. The spur of the flower contains 1 stamen and 2 stigmas, usually dark purple. The fruit capsule contains many tiny dust-like seeds. 

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