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Orchids at Durlston

There are 9 species of orchid to be found during the year, visit between April and September and you can discover some of these fascinating and varied flowers. Please pop into our Visitor Centre at the Castle (open daily from 10am) and ask a ranger for directions to see them. 

Early Spider, Early Purple, Green Winged, Common Spotted, Southern Marsh, Bee, Pyramidal, Twayblade and Autumn Lady's Tresses.

When to see them

Our first few species of Orchids appear in April and remain in bloom until May.

  • Early Spider Orchid: Green spikes with brown flowers which are said to mimic a spider in order to attract insects for pollination. It is a nationally rare, but locally abundant species here in Purbeck, and can be found on short turf all along the ridge between the Lighthouse and Dancing Ledge. Varies between 2-6" in height. 
  • Early Purple Orchid: Beautiful cone shaped spikes of upto 50 small purple flowers. These appear all across the Meadows and Downs and easy to spot. Taller than the Green-winged Orchid, usually around 6-10" high. Also identified by its glossy green leaves with purple / black blotches.
  • Green-Winged Orchid: A purple-flowered Orchid, which is slightly confusingly named for the green veins which run through the petals of each flower. These are much fewer in number than the Early Spider and Early Purple and found along the coastal slopes westward of the Lighthouse. Usually just a few inches in height. No spots on the leaves.

As we approach the end of May, the early-flowering orchid species will start to go over, and our next few species come into flower.

  • Common Spotted Orchid: Gets it's name from its leaves which are green with many purple oval spots. The flowers are light pink, dotted with a darker magenta which gives a raspberry ripple effect.
  • Bee Orchid: Said to mimic a female Bee visiting it's flower to trick male Bees into pollinating it. These orchids are much fewer in number, but can often be seen around the Globe and Mile Markers in June.


Green Veined Orchid

Orchid Surveys

Each year volunteers count the orchids at Durlston as part of the long-term monitoring of this site.  Annual Results