O’Kelly’s  Spotted-Orchid

Common name:
O’Kelly’s spotted-orchid
Dactylorhiza fuchsia f. okellyi
Nuacht bhallach Ui Cheallaigh
Flowering period:
June to August
Limestone pavement with calcareous grasslands, roadside verges
Conservation Status:

Short description: 

A very pretty pure white form of the common spotted orchid, the full-lipped flowers are divided into three almost equal lobes.  Basal leaves green, long and narrow, shorter along the stem.

Noteworthy characteristics

One of the botanical jewels of the Burren, this delicately scented pure white orchid is worth investigation, not just for it’s scent but also to detect the frilly sides of each individual flower, a feature that helps distinguish it from other spotted orchids.  The slightly later flowering time than other spotted orchids, along with its pure white form, makes identification easier.   Occasionally specimens are found with a pale flush of pink.

Uses and other points of interest:

This special Burren orchid was first discovered in the early 1900’s by the Burren farmer and botanist from Ballyvaughan, Patrick Bernard O’Kellly for whom this plant was named by the Oxford botanist George Claridge Druce.   O’ Kelly collected and sold wild plants from the Burren and had a particular interest in the wild speciality plants of the area including orchids and the Spring Gentian.

O’Kelly’s spotted orchid has its headquarters in the Burren. It is also found locally in a few other counties scattered around the country.

Personal note

This is a very pretty orchid and one that I love to look at closely. A hand lens is a very useful tool for this. Each beautiful individual flower reminds me of a little white angel.


Ireland holds or possible holds more than 25% of the European population of this subspecies (Ireland Red List No. 10 Vascular Plants)




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