BROAD-LEAVED HELLEBORINE

Epipactis helleborine

Orchid Family [Orchidaceae]  

month8jul month8july month8aug month8sep month8sept

status
statusZnative
 
flower
flower8bicolour
 
flower
flower8green
 
flower
flower8lilac flower8pink
 
flower
flower8white
 
inner
inner8yellow
 
inner
inner8mauve
 
inner
inner8brown
 
morph
morph=Zygo
 
petals
petalsZ2
 
stem
stem8round
 
smell
smell8honey
honey

July 2011, Gwehlog, Usk, Monmouthshire. Photo: © Steve Hoselitz
The narrower leaves higher up are either arranged spirally around the stem, or in triplets, or in opposite pairs.


31st July 2007, Gait Barrows, Silverdale, Lancs. Photo: © Roger Foden
In a shady woodland setting. A single stalk carries several drooping flowers up the stem.


12th July 2014, Wigg Island, Runcorn, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD
A much shorter specimen hiding amidst taller plants beside the water.


12th July 2014, Wigg Island, Runcorn, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD
The flowers at the top are the last to open.


12th July 2014, Wigg Island, Runcorn, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD
Most of the lowest flowers droop downwards as if shy to display themselves.


12th July 2014, Wigg Island, Runcorn, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD
The flower on the right shows the three sepals (the longer of the six green things), the topmost being the dorsal sepal, the two side ones the lateral sepals. Within that are two dorsal petals (half under the wings of the dorsal sepal) and the epichile at the back.


31st July 2007, Gait Barrows, Silverdale, Lancs. Photo: © Roger Foden
The flowers have a pink and white lower lip, and a yellow upper lip. Stems are close-cut downy hairy. The definitive feature is the purplish tinged of the narrow part of the flower stalk where it joins the main stem.


31st July 2007, Gait Barrows, Silverdale, Lancs. Photo: © Roger Foden
There are three pointed sepals, broader than long arranged in an equilateral triangle partly shrouding the flower. Two orange blips appear like eyes on the upper lip. The Hypochile is the chocolate brown object inside of the lower lip (the Epichile). The yellowish anther cap is immediately under the top (dorsal) sepal.


July 2011, Gwehlog, Usk, Monmouthshire. Photo: © Steve Hoselitz
Here flowers almost all pinkish.


July 2011, Gwehlog, Usk, Monmouthshire. Photo: © Steve Hoselitz
Here flowers almost all green with a mauve wash.


14th June 2009, Lot Valley, France. Photo: © Hester Coley
The thick fluted ovary can be seen best here drooping over supporting the drooping flower.


July 2011, Gwehlog, Usk, Monmouthshire. Photo: © Steve Hoselitz
The flowers are very variable, being either wholly green, or completely purple, or with lilac or mauve coloured tinges.


12th July 2014, Wigg Island, Runcorn, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD
This photo shows the yellowish Anther Cap to best advantage. Turning brown at the peripheries.


12th July 2014, Wigg Island, Runcorn, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD
Only the leaves at the bottom 1/3rd of the plant are broad.


14th June 2009, Lot Valley, France. Photo: © Hester Coley
Only those leaves near the ground are broad, the rest get progressively narrower the higher up the stem.


14th June 2009, Lot Valley, France. Photo: © Hester Coley
The leaves half-clasp the stem and have bold veins running parallel.


Easily confused with : Hellebores [plants with similar names but which belong to the Buttercup Family [Ranunculaceae]]

Hybridises with : Violet Helleborine (Epipactis purpurata) to produce Epipactis × schulzei.

Some similarities to : Marsh Helleborine but that is much shorter.

There are several varieties:

  • Young's Helleborine (Epipactis Helleborine var. youngiana) but no convincing case can be made for this; it all falls within the wide variability of Broad-leaved Helleborine. Recent genetic studies reveal that it does not exist as a separate entity, and is probably cross-pollinated.
  • Dutch Helleborine (Epipactis Helleborine var. neerlandica) which is rather short, between 15-40cm high, and with short, stiff, more round leaves which are held nearly erect near the base of the stem which they sheath.
  • (Epipactis Helleborine var. monotropoides) [also known as var. albifolia] is devoid of chlorophyll and therefore lacks green; the bulk is pale-pink to straw in colour and the flowers white or rosy. Very rare.
  • (Epipactis Helleborine var. viridifolia) is devoid of anthocyanins and has pale-green flowers with a whitish-green lip and lacking in any red, purple or pink coloration. Rare.

Uniquely identifiable characteristics

Distinguishing Feature : The purplish wash on the thin part of the flower stalk as it joins the main stem.

No relation to : Hellebores [plants with similar name which belong to the Buttercup Family [Ranunculaceae].

This Helleborine is generally the most common of the Helleborines. It grows to 80cm in woods and other shady places. Flowers, greenish-yellow to pinkish-purple, are solitary atop single stems. The leaves, which are sometimes tinged purplish, are broad, half-clasp the stem, and spiral up the stem at intervals.

Has a faint odour of honey.


  Epipactis helleborine  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Orchidaceae  

Distribution
 family8Orchid family8Orchidaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Epipactis
Epipactis
(Helleborines)

BROAD-LEAVED HELLEBORINE

Epipactis helleborine

Orchid Family [Orchidaceae]  

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