Phylum: Magnoliophyta - Class: Liliopsida - Order: Orchidales - Family: Orchidaceae
Broad-leaved Helleborine is common throughout its range and grows in dark woodlands, quite often appearing very close to well trodden paths. Coniferous and Beech woodlands are particularly good for Epipactis helleborine. Far less common is this very rare variety of Broad-leaved Helleborine, Epipactis helleborine var. purpurea, along with the white-leaved variety Epipactis helleborine var. albifolia and the green-flowered one, Epipactis helleborine var. viridiflora.
Epipactis helleborine var.purpurea can be differentiated from other specimens of Broad-leaved Helleborine by its large and deep purple flowers.
The plants shown on this page were found at Hutton Roof Crags in Cumbria but their rarity makes is very difficult to form an opinion as to the true range of the plant.
The specimens shown on this page were found on limestone pavement.
July and August are the best time to search for this intriguing plant.
The genus name Epipactis is an ancient Greek name of a plant said to be capable of curdling milk (perhaps a Hellebore). The type species of this genus is Epipactis helleborine, the specific epithet of which means 'like a hellebore' - a reference to a physical resemblance in this instance. The subspecies name purpurea means 'purple'.
Pictures: Elaine Hagget...
The Plant List
Anne and Simon Harrap (2005) Orchids of Britain and Ireland; A&C Black
Pierre Delforge (2005) Orchids of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East; A&C Black
Den Nordiska Floran (1992) Bo Mossberg, Stefan Ericsson and Lennart Stenberg; Wahlstrom & Widstrand
If you found this information helpful, we are sure you would also like books on the Wild Orchids of Wales, of The Burren, and of the Algarve. Author-signed copies are available here...