Montag, 8. August 2011

Plant of the Day (August 8th, 2011) - Epipactis helleborine

Normally wild orchids are very rare in Europe and protected by laws. This is because orchids are very demanding toward the soil and the ecosystem. But there is one orchid, which has managed to spread in a large scale. This species is Epipactis helleborine (L.) Crantz or “Breitblättrige Stendelwurz” (German) or “Broad leafed helleborine”. (English) from the Orchideaceae family (Sub-family: Epidendroideae).

E. helleborine - habitus

This plant can reach heights until 80 centimetres. The leafs are egg-shaped and growing horizontally. The bracts are longer than the flowers.

E. helleborine - inflorescence

Then inflorescence is a terminal raceme. Each flower has 3 green sepals and three white to pink petals. As with all orchids, the lower petal of E. helleborine is bigger than the other tepals. This strucure is called Labellum (lip). Flowering time is between July and August. 

 E. helleborine - flowers

This plan is native to the old world (Europe, North Asia, Norh Africa) but can also be found in North America as neophyte. It's one of the most common orchids and can be found in forest, parks at partial shaded places. Unlike most orchids, E. helleborine tolerates to a certain extent the lack of lime in the soil (while the most orchids need a very calcareous soil). The content of lime in the soil also determines also the height of the plant and the colour of their flowers.

E. helleborine - leaves

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