DARK-RED HELLEBORINE

Epipactis atrorubens

Orchid Family [Orchidaceae]

month8jun month8june month8jul month8july

status
statusZnative
 
flower
flower8red flower8beetroot
 
inner
inner8yellow
 
inner
inner8red
 
morph
morph8zygo
 
petals
petalsZ5
 
type
typeZspiked
 
stem
stem8round
 
smell
smell8slight
slight
rarity
rarityZscarce
 

21st July 2012, Bishop Middleham Quarry SSSI, Co. Durham. Photo: © Jim Barton
Grows up to 30cm tall. Up to 20 flowers in a spike.


21st July 2012, Bishop Middleham Quarry SSSI, Co. Durham. Photo: © Jim Barton
Stem dark-red with short white hairs. Unopened flowers pointed and drooping dowwards. Stem leaves few in number, short, narrow and isosceles triangular in shape apparently without a stalk.


21st July 2012, Bishop Middleham Quarry SSSI, Co. Durham. Photo: © Jim Barton
Opened flowers are zygomorphic with bi-lateral symmetry. Outer part wine-red (sometimes creamy as at Wester Ross), inner part yellowish.


21st July 2012, Bishop Middleham Quarry SSSI, Co. Durham. Photo: © Jim Barton
Petals and sepals are the same wine-red colour, both pointed. Sepals (usually longer than the petals and in-curved) comprise one upright dorsal and two lateral sepals (lowest . There are two dorsal petals, one on each side between the sepals. Anther cap is yellowish.


21st July 2012, Bishop Middleham Quarry SSSI, Co. Durham. Photo: © Jim Barton
The ovary behind the flower is also deep-red, fluted and hairy.


21st July 2012, Bishop Middleham Quarry SSSI, Co. Durham. Photo: © Jim Barton
The hypochile (deep in dark depths and visible in the upper flower) is greenish. The epichile (nearest part of the lower lip) is small and reflexed, with fuzzy and wrinkled red bosses (caruncle) at its base. The entire shape of the lower lip can vary somewhat between specimens.


21st July 2012, Bishop Middleham Quarry SSSI, Co. Durham. Photo: © Jim Barton
Fuzzy wrinkled red bosses on outermost lip (epichile) prominent in photo.


21st July 2012, Bishop Middleham Quarry SSSI, Co. Durham. Photo: © Jim Barton
Pollinators by wasps. Other possible pollinators are thought to include hoverflies, honeybees and bumblebees. Attracted by the scent a 7-Spot Burnet Moth takes a rest.


21st July 2012, Bishop Middleham Quarry SSSI, Co. Durham. Photo: © Jim Barton
Lower stem leaves broadish and alternate in two rows and usually folded.


Easily confused with : Broad-Leaved Helleborine with dark-red flowers rather than the more usual dirty greenish-purple, but that has a differing lip structure.

Not to be semantically confused with : Red Helleborine (Cephelanthera rubra) [a plant with similar name belonging to a differing genus, but is still a Helleborine] which has flowers that are pinkish-red and of differing shape. Also, the stem of this Helleborine appears angular or square.

Hybridizes with : Broad-Leaved Helleborine (Epipactis helleborine) to produce Epipactis × schmalhausenii, the most convincing examples of which are to be found on Arnside Knot.

Some resemblance to : Marsh Cinquefoil (Comarum palustris), which has five beetroot-coloured actinomorphic (radially symmetric) petals and is found in wet places, and to Dusky Cranesbill (Geranium phaeum) which grows in gardens and also has five actinomorphic beetroot-coloured petals [both of which belong to differing families].

There is great variation in the flowers, some specimens are small and cup shaped whilst others may have long elegant spreading sepals.

It grows only in limestone areas such as exposed limestone cliffs, in the deep grykes of limestone pavements or on the face of limestone quarries. It sets seed readily and efficiently.


  Epipactis atrorubens  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Orchidaceae  

Distribution
 family8Orchid family8Orchidaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Epipactis
Epipactis
(Helleborines)

DARK-RED HELLEBORINE

Epipactis atrorubens

Orchid Family [Orchidaceae]