WHITE HELLEBORINE

POACHED-EGG PLANT

Cephalanthera damasonium

(Formerly: Cephalanthera latifolia)
Orchid Family [Orchidaceae]

month8may month8jun month8june month8jul month8july

status
statusZnative
flower
flower8white flower8cream
inner
inner8yellow
morph
morph8zygo
petals
petalsZ5
type
typeZspiked
type
typeZtubular
stem
stem8round
stem
stem8angular
rarity
rarityZuncommon

1st May 2012, Sandwich, Kent. Photo: © Barney Case
A robust plant up to 60cm tall.


Homefield Wood, Marlow, Bucks. Photo: © Phil And Ann Farrer
With glaucous bluish-green leaves which peel off the stem at alternate intervals in two opposite rows: broad lanceolate ones near the bottom and progressively narrower ones nearer the top.


Homefield Wood, Marlow, Bucks. Photo: © Phil And Ann Farrer
Grows in Beech woods with little ground cover on chalky or limestone soil. Only occasionally found out in the open on downland.


1st May 2012, Sandwich, Kent. Photo: © Barney Case
Up to 16 cream to white flowers, rarely fully opening, and unusually, all pointing skywards. When open an orange/yellow lip is visible which, unlike most orchids, does not split into three (not shown). This yellow end part of the lip, the epichile, gives rise to its folk-name 'Poached-egg Plant' and seems to attract insects - being often nibbled away. Short leaf-like bracts inhabit the upper stem and amidst the flowers.


Homefield Wood, Marlow, Bucks. Photo: © Phil And Ann Farrer
The ovary, in Orchids the stalk of the flower, is unusually not twisted but still deeply grooved.


1st May 2012, Sandwich, Kent. Photo: © Barney Case
Leaves are oval and ribbed.


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

Easily mis-identified as : Narrow-Leaved Helleborine, which is more graceful, has narrower leaves, with whiter flowers and a diminutive orange spot on the single lower lip.

Some similarities to : Lesser Butterfly-Orchid, Greater Butterfly Orchid or any Lady's Tresses which are all white flowered plants belonging to the Orchid Family.

Hybridises with : Narrow-Leaved Helleborine (Cephalanthera longifolia) to produce Cephalanthera × schulzei, but which only occurs east of Bournemouth.

No relation to : Hellebores such as Stinking Hellebore, Lenten-Rose, Green Hellebore or Corsican Hellebore [plants with similar names].


  Cephalanthera damasonium  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Orchidaceae  

Distribution
 family8Orchid family8Orchidaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Cephalanthera
Cephalanthera
(Helleborines)

WHITE HELLEBORINE

POACHED-EGG PLANT

Cephalanthera damasonium

(Formerly: Cephalanthera latifolia)
Orchid Family [Orchidaceae]