Broad-leafed Helleborine Epipactis helleborine subsp helleborine

Scientific Name: Epipactis helleborine subsp helleborine.

English Name: Broad-leafed Helleborine.

French Name: Epipactis à feuilles larges (='broad-leafed helleborine'); Epipactis à larges feuilles (='broad-leafed helleborine').

5 Key Characters:
  • variable depending on biotope (ie where it is growing).
  • very common in poplar plantations, where it can form large colonies.
  • robust -- tall and thick stemmed compared to most other native orchids of the area.
  • leaves do not narrow to a base sheath.
  • leaves spreading or ascending, longer than the intervals between leaves up the stem.

Lookalikes: E. muelleri and E. helleborine subsp minor, which both have smaller narrower leaves. E. muelleri flowers earlier and E. helleborine subsp minor flowers later than E. helleborine subsp helleborine.

Habitat: Cool damp understorey, scrub, wooded gardens, poplar plantations, broad-leaved forest, beside tracks, woodland edges, more rarely in open areas, on rich calcareous to lightly acid soils, limestone to clay. A pioneering species, often appearing in towns. A very tolerant species, rather nitrogen loving (it first appeared in our orchard  a few years ago, near the compost bins).

Flowering Period: June-July-August (later than E. muelleri). Pollinated by social wasp species -- Common Wasp Vespula vulgaris, Dolichovespula sp, Paper Wasps Polistes sp.

Status: Can be seen within 5km of Preuilly-sur-Claise, including in our orchard. Fairly common and widespread everywhere. So common it is probably under recorded because it goes unremarked. The species appeared in eastern North America at the end of the 19th century.

Photographed by Loire Valley Nature:

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