Outer Hebrides Biological Recording

The ‘Hebridean Marsh-Orchid’: Nomenclatural and conceptual clarification of a biological enigma

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Edinburgh Journal of Botany, Volume 52, Issue 1, p.55-63 (2010)




<p>The ‘Hebridean Marsh-orchid’ is a controversial dactylorchid taxon currently regarded as endemic to the island of North Uist in the Scottish Hebrides. Re-evaluation of past taxonomic treatments reveals that none of its three names – <span class="italic">Dactylorhiza majalis</span> (Reichenbach f.) P. F. Hunt &amp; Summerhayes subsp. <span class="italic">scotica</span> Nelson (1976, 1979), <span class="italic">D. majalis</span> subsp. <span class="italic">occidentalis</span> (Pugsley) Soó var. <span class="italic">ebudensis</span> Wiefelspütz (in Landwehr, 1977), and <span class="italic">D. majalis</span> subsp. <span class="italic">occidentalis</span> var. <span class="italic">scotica</span> (Nelson) R. M. Bateman &amp; Denholm (1983) – has been validly published. We herein legitimize <span class="italic">D. majalis</span> subsp. <span class="italic">occidentalis var. ebudensis</span> Wiefelspütz ex R. M. Bateman &amp; Denholm, presenting for the first time full details of its lectotype. However, we also note that this nomenclatural clarification has no relevance to determining the most appropriate rank for, and biological significance of, this taxon, which is one of many doubtfully distinct ‘critical’ taxa of dactylorchids that occur in western and northern regions of the British Isles. Taxonomic opinions expressed on these populations to date have been based on sparse, qualitative, and often contradictory data, and most lacked an explicit conceptual framework. We outline a more rigorous analytical protocol.</p>

Taxonomic Group: