NARROW-LEAVED HELLEBORINE

SWORD-LEAVED HELLEBORINE

Cephalanthera longifolia

Orchid Family [Orchidaceae]

month8may month8jun month8june month8jul month8july

status
statusZnative
flower
flower8white
inner
inner8yellow
morph
morph8zygo
petals
petalsZ5
stem
stem8round
rarity
rarityZscarce

June, Near Gourdon, Lot region of France Photo: © Kelly Finney
Tall, up to 1.6m high in favourable sites, but often a much shorter 25cm. Long graceful leaves peel off stem alternately at a 45° upward angle arching slightly and gracefully; the longest leaves at mid-stem.


18th May 2010, Lot Valley, France. Photo: © Hester Coley
Un-opened flower buds greenish on the outside and directed upwards.


June, Near Gourdon, Lot region of France Photo: © Kelly Finney
Up to 40 pure-white flowers in the spike. The apex of the stem has a blind shoot. The 'stalks' of the flowers are actually the ovary, and it is parallel-sided rather than bulging like Popeye's muscles as they do on White Helleborine and twists through 180°.


18th May 2010, Lot Valley, France. Photo: © Hester Coley
Flowers have a fairly large and open hood. The petals and sepals point forwards partially obscuring an egg-yoke coloured lip enveloped within.


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

Not to be confused semantically with : Narrow-lipped Hellebore (Epipactis leptochila) or Broad-Leaved Helleborine (Epipactis helleborinea) [other Helleborines with similar names]

Easily mistaken for : White Helleborine which also has white flowers, but the leaves of White Helleborine are shorter and broader, the flowers are an off-white ivory colour rather than pure white and they do not open fully.

Hybridizes with : White Helleborine (Cephalanthera damasonium) to produce Cephalanthera × schulzei, but which only occurs around Havant near Southampton. Uniquely identifiable characteristics

Distinguishing Feature : The graceful appearance of the long sword-like leaves, branching off 45° upwards from the main stem alternately at intervals and arching over slightly. The pure-white flowers.

No relation to : Green Hellebore (Helleborus viridus) or any other Hellebore [plant with similar names belonging to a differing family, the Buttercup Family, Ranunculaceae, nor to any Helliotropes such as Winter Heliotrope (Petasites fragrans)].

Although some or all the photographs above were taken in France, this Helleborine does grow in the UK too.

Often grows in open glades in woodland on chalky soil, but also grows on acid soils in Sessile Oak woodland amidst Bilberry.

It is threatened and declining in abundance due to habitat destruction, and is now part of English Natures' (now Natural Englands')  'Species Recovery Program' and Plantlife Internationals' 'Back from the Brink' project. In Wales it can only be found in 8 out of its former 14 haunts.


  Cephalanthera longifolia  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Orchidaceae  

Distribution
 family8Orchid family8Orchidaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Cephalanthera
Cephalanthera
(Helleborines)

NARROW-LEAVED HELLEBORINE

SWORD-LEAVED HELLEBORINE

Cephalanthera longifolia

Orchid Family [Orchidaceae]