Polyploidy is common in higher plants, and speciation in polyploid complexes is usually the result of reticulate evolution. We examined variation in nuclear AFLP fingerprints, nuclear isozymes, and hypervariable plastid DNA loci to describe speciation patterns and species relationships in the Dactylorhiza incarnatalmaculata polyploid complex (marsh orchids; Orchidaceae) in Greece. Several endemic taxa with restricted distribution have been described from this area, and to propose meaningful conservation priorities, detailed relationships need to be known. We identified four independently derived allopolyploid lineages, which is a pattern poorly correlated with prevailing taxonomy. Three lineages were composed of populations restricted to small areas and may be of recent origins from extant parental lineages. One lineage with wide distribution in northern Greece was characterized by several unique plastid haplotypes that were phylogenetically related and evidently older. The D. incarnatal maculata polyploid complex in Greece has high levels of genetic diversity at the polyploid level. This diversity has accumulated over a long time and may include genetic variants originating from now extinct parental populations. Our data also indicate that the Balkans may have constituted an important refuge from which northern European Dactylorhiza were recruited after the Weichselian ice age.