DUNE HELLEBORINE

Epipactis dunensis

Formerly: Epipactis leptochila var. dunensis
Orchid Family [Orchidaceae]

month8jun month8june month8jul month8july month8aug

status
statusZnative
 
flower
flower8white
 
inner
inner8mauve inner8pink
 
inner
inner8yellow inner8yellowish-green
 
morph
morph8zygo
 
petals
petalsZ5 petalsZ2
only 2
type
typeZspiked
 
stem
stem8round
 
rarity
rarityZrare
 

DUNE HELLEBORINE

Epipactis dunensis ssp. dunensis

(formerly: Epipactis leptochila var. dunensis)

27th July 2012, Ainsdale, Sefton Coast Photo: © Ian Howarth
Up to 50cm tall, and hairy (or at least the top half is). The stem of Dune Helleborine has yellowish-green leaves which appear in pairs. The flowers are yellowish-green with the front lip pf the flower and the two petals either side of the yellow 'dot' (anther-cap) being washed with a pinkish hue.


27th July 2012, Ainsdale, Sefton Coast Photo: © Ian Howarth


27th July 2012, Ainsdale, Sefton Coast Photo: © Ian Howarth
The flowers are relatively small in Dune Helleborine and don't open very widely. The base of the flower stalk (before the bloating ovary) has a violet-brown tinge (yellowish-green on Tyne Helleborine)


27th July 2012, Ainsdale, Sefton Coast Photo: © Ian Howarth
The upper part of the stem is downy with short soft hairs. The furthest part of the boat-shaped hypochile is the curved-downwards epichile, which is pinkish and heart-shaped, usually broader than it is long (longer than broad or about equal in Tyne Helleborine). This epichile variably folds downwards as the flower ages (whereas that of Tyne Helleborine just sticks out like a rude tongue).


27th July 2012, Ainsdale, Sefton Coast Photo: © Ian Howarth
The small yellow 'cowl' above the flower is the anther-cap with the unseen anther right below it whaich has been shedding near-white pollen grains on the yellowish-green structure below.


27th July 2012, Ainsdale, Sefton Coast Photo: © Ian Howarth
Dune Helleborine differs from Narrow-Lipped Helleborine (Epipactis leptochila) in several ways:
The (pink here) recurved lip is wider (or at least as wide) as it is long for Dune Helleborine (other way around - longer than wide for Narrow-Lipped Helleborine.
Both sepals and petals are shorter in Dune Helleborine.
Sepals and petals less-narrowly acute and more yellowish-green than Narrow-Lipped Helleborine.


27th July 2012, Ainsdale, Sefton Coast Photo: © Ian Howarth
Here your Author thinks the cream-coloured anthers are visible just below the yellow anther cap. Pollen is scattered on the 'boat-shaped' hypochile immediately below it.



TYNE HELLEBORINE

Epipactis dunensis ssp. tynensis

(formerly: Epipactis leptochila var. tynensis)

27th July 2012, Ainsdale, Sefton Coast Photo: © Ian Howarth
Tyne Helleborine differs from dune Helleborine in having greener flowers.


27th July 2012, Ainsdale, Sefton Coast Photo: © Ian Howarth
The lips (epichile) of the flower stick out like a cheeky tongue (rather than folding over as in Dune Helleborine)


27th July 2012, Ainsdale, Sefton Coast Photo: © Ian Howarth
Both the 3 sepals and the two petals each side of the inner pink(ish) boat-shaped object with its upper 'lid' are greener than those of Dune Helleborine.


27th July 2012, Ainsdale, Sefton Coast Photo: © Ian Howarth
The curved and swollen leaf-green ovary supports the rest of the flower from behind. Base of flower stalk (to which the bloated ovary which is attached just beneath the flower) is yellowish-green (wheras those of Dune Helleborine have a violet tinge).


27th July 2012, Ainsdale, Sefton Coast Photo: © Ian Howarth
The wide open part of the 'boat'-like structure is called the hypochile. It has a lip above it, and directly above that is one of the 3 sepals, called the dorsal sepal. The other two sepals called lateral sepals are each side of the 'boat' structure.


27th July 2012, Ainsdale, Sefton Coast Photo: © Ian Howarth


27th July 2012, Ainsdale, Sefton Coast Photo: © Ian Howarth
The front lip of the 'boat' structure is the epichile, and like all helleborines, is coated with 'pseudopollen', in this case orange-brown. It is not pollen.


27th July 2012, Ainsdale, Sefton Coast Photo: © Ian Howarth
The front lip of the 'boat' structure (the epichile), and in Tyne Helleborine it is not reflexed downwards (as it is in Dune Helleborine) and is longer than it is broad (it is the opposite of that in Dune Helleborine).
19th July 2012, Willamston River Shingle SSSI, South Tyne. Photo: © Jim Barton
Up to 60cm tall. Leaves yellow-green, flowers in a spike.


19th July 2012, Willamston River Shingle SSSI, South Tyne. Photo: © Jim Barton


19th July 2012, Willamston River Shingle SSSI, South Tyne. Photo: © Jim Barton


19th July 2012, Willamston River Shingle SSSI, South Tyne. Photo: © Jim Barton


19th July 2012, Willamston River Shingle SSSI, South Tyne. Photo: © Jim Barton


19th July 2012, Willamston River Shingle SSSI, South Tyne. Photo: © Jim Barton


19th July 2012, Willamston River Shingle SSSI, South Tyne. Photo: © Jim Barton
Lower leaves are broad oval.


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.


  Epipactis dunensis  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Orchidaceae  

Distribution
 family8Orchid family8Orchidaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Epipactis
Epipactis
(Helleborines)

DUNE HELLEBORINE

Epipactis dunensis

Orchid Family [Orchidaceae]