Not to be semantically confused with :
Hellebores [plants with similar names but which belong to the Buttercup Family [Ranunculaceae]]
Easily mis-identified as :
- Narrow-Lipped Helleborine (Epipactis leptochila) is very similar to Tyne Helleborine (the two were once thought to be the same), but its upper stem and ovaries are hairless or have just a few sparse hairs. Also, its leaves, which are apple-green, are often short and rounded. Its flowers droop more or less downwards both when in bud and when flowering. Narrow-Lipped Helleborine only occurs in southern England, whereas Tyne Helleborine occurs on the Tyne in Northumberland growing on well-drained gravelly soils which are heavily contaminated by zinc and lead tailings. Also on spoil heaps contaminated with lead in woods.
- Broad-Leaved Helleborine (Epipactis helleborine) but that has: broader, darker and greener leaves which are all around the stem and not held stiffly in a catatonic posture outwards. The flowers are also larger and open more widely than Dune Helleborine). The sepals often have pink or purple washes and the lip (epichile) has a distinctly purple tinge. Like Dune Helleborine, but unlike Tyne Helleborine, the lip (epichile) of Broad-Leaved Helleborine is almost invariably strongly turned over downwards.
Tyne Helleborine is also to be found in Cumbria, County Durham and NW Yorkshire as well as inland sites in N. Lincolnshire, SE Yorks, Durham, Cumbria and Southern Scotland.
Dune Helleborine was once thought to be a variation of Narrow-Lipped Helleborine (Epipactis leptochila), hence its former name Epipactis leptochila var. dunensis but it is now known to be entirely separate in its own right. In many ways it is similar to Narrow-Lipped Helleborine, but there are important subtle differences.
Dune Helleborine cannot tolerate grazing by animals but tolerates growing on soils contaminated by heavy metals, for it is a Metallophyte. It grows on river gravel, dune-slacks and in woods. It is a rare [RRR] native plant. It is found on the Lancashire and Merseyside coastal dunes, Anglesey and by the Duddon estuary at Sandscale Haws, Cumbria.
Genetically, Dune Helleborine and Tyne Helleborine are said to be indistinguishable. So your Author wonders whether the differences are contained in epigenetic differences, such as methylation of parts of the DNA(?). Or maybe only parts of the genome have actually been compared(?). Or maybe the offspring of specimens of Dune Helleborine, planted where Tyne Helleborine grows, would grow up to be Tyne Helleborine(?) Maybe the latter is why the two don't seem to be found growing together: the one turns into the other!
Both Dune and Tyne Helleborine are Metallophytes, capable of growing on lands contaminated by the heavy metals lead and zinc where lesser mortal plants fear to grow because they will succumb to death. Competition is probably the reason these two Helleborines grow on contaminated land (rather than a liking for heavy metals per se); there is much less competition where the heavy metals are. All metallophytes seem to grow less well in heavy metal contaminated soils. Metallophytes don't actually want heavy metals; they either excrete them or secrete them in special compartments where they can do less harm.
There used to be some considerable confusion over the decades with the exact identities and provenance of the Helleborines now called
Dune Helleborine (Epipactis dunensis) formerly called Epipactis leptochila var. dunensis,
Tyne Helleborine (Epipactis dunensis ssp. tynensis) formerly called Epipactis leptochila var. tynensis and Narrow-Leaved Helleborine (Epipactis leptochila) but all has been resolved, for now...
Fungal associations of Helleborines
Both Broad-Leaved Helleborine and the two
Dune Helleborines (Epipactis dunensis ssp. dunensis) and
Tyne Helleborines (Epipactis dunensis ssp. tynensis) have underground associations with the Ascomycetes group of fungi.
Broad-Leaved Helleborine and Dark-Red Helleborine (Epipactis atrorubens) may also associate with ectomycorrhizal fungi obtaining some nutrients from trees via the fungi these are connected to, stealing the nutrients from the fungi.
Many Helleborines seem not to engage and swap nutrients with fungi, except perhaps for those occasional varieties of Helleborines which lack chlorophyll with which to photosynthesise but somehow manage; it seems that they ate least are able to thrive by obtaining substantial amounts of nutrients from fungi. The chlorophyll-less variety of Violet Helleborine (Epipactis purpurata var. rosea) is assumed to get sustenance from fungi.