This beautiful orchid is becoming increasingly rare in the UK but can still be found in large numbers in parts of Europe.
The Dark-red Helleborine can grow up to 30 cm and the leaves of the plant are distinctive growing in two opposite rows on either side of the stem. They are deeply ridged and heavily veined but leaves higher up the stem are longer and narrower. The Dark-red Helleborine is sometimes confused with pinker specimens of the Broad-leaved Helleborine (Epipactis helleborine) but the flowers have a deep v-shaped and roughened-looking structure on the lip.
Good places to look for this lovely orchid in the UK include Gait Barrows National Nature Reserve in Lancashire, Great Orme in Llandudno, North Wales. If you happen to be visiting Ireland, The Burren in County Clare also has good numbers of plants in late June.
Dark-red Helleborine is also found in many European countries, including Slovenia where we photographed it in 2011 growing on a roadside verge in the Triglav National Park. Slovenia is very rich in wildflowers and wild orchids in particular, and on the same bank we also found Bird's-nest Orchid (Neottia nidus-avis), Red Helleborine (Cephalanthera rubra), Lesser Butterfly-orchid (Platanthera bifolia) and Common Spotted-orchid (Dactylorhiza fuchsii) flowering together. A memorable sight, indeed!
The specimen above was photographed in Bishop Middleham Quarry near Durham, UK in early July.
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Watermarked preview (new window) of Photolibrary image OR124f_epipactis_atrorubens.jpg (Large file)...