John and Gerry's    Orchids of Britain and Europe
Home Back to Epipactis species Links

Epipactis helleborine var viridiflora
The nominate species was first described from Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany by Crantz in 1753 and arguably the most familiar of the European Epipactis, being widely known as the Broad Leaved Helleborine.

Although morphologically a highly diverse species, there are few recognized varieties and recent molecular studies seem to call even some of these into question. E. helleborine  has a huge distribution throughout Europe and Asia and occurs as far east as Siberia and the Himalayas. It can be found as far north as Scandinavia and in the south reaches the Mediterranean and Aegean, although this southerly range is is open to question due to confusion with other related Epipactis species.  Well over a century ago it was introduced to the United States where it has spread so dramatically as to now be regarded a nuisance species.

This is an orchid that tolerates a wide range of differing climatic and soil conditions and has justifiably acquired a reputation as a species capable of turning up almost anywhere, a characteristic which together with its natural predisposition for variation sees it frequently confused with other species. Viridiflora is a variety that can occur throughout the range of the main species and the examples here were discovered growing on limestone pavement in close association with both E. helleborine and E. atrorubens. Light phases of E. helleborine appear quite commonly but they usually  show vestiges of reddish colouration whereas this variety is completely green/white.

The pictures come from northern England and Austria, dating from the 8th of August and 10th of July respectively.