The Curious Case of the Mystery Helleborine, 1 August 2019

I had a date at Carlton Marshes yesterday evening (which I'll cover in a separate blog post) so spent a very pleasant couple of hours in the afternoon at Gunton Woods on the north side of Lowestoft.

My aim was to get some photographs of Broad-leaved Helleborines in flower having given them 10 days to advance since my last visit. I found 12 plants in one small area including one of the really nice green specimens. While looking at this my eye ws drawn to a nearby plant which I immediately knew was someting odd. I snapped a few phone pics and sent them to Sean Cole via Twitter. His excited response with a few choice expletives got me very interested so I returned to get some photos of the leaves that he requested. After some offline discussion various things have been suggested including a very unusual looking Broad-leaved, Broad-leaved x Marsh, Violet, Violet x Broad-leaved and even some mention of Dark Red x Broad-leaved (?!) and comments that the lip looks like  Mueller's Helleborine.

The pointed lip that is flared and frilly at the edges, open hypochile, long ovaries and odd positioning of the anther have all got people thinking! The leaves are also much narrower than BLH. My initial thought was BLH x VH but that was onsite before consulting anyone or anything!

The habitat is damp grassland under alder on the edge of mature woodland.

My pictures of it are below

The mystery epipactis!

Broad-leaved Helleborine, green variety

     Broad-leaved Helleborine, typical

As a side - a confiding Stock Dove was under one of the woodland feeders. I even managed a shot with my 55m lens! 


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