Epipactis helleborine, the broad-leaved helleborine, is a terrestrial species of orchid. Its nodding flowers vary from greenish pink to purple, and it prefers shaded woodland environments.
Epipactis helleborine grows to a height of 80 cm and has broad dull green leaves which are strongly ribbed and flat. The flowers are arranged in long drooping racemes with dull green sepals and shorter upper petals. The lower labellum is pale red and is much shorter than the upper petals.
It is widespread across much of Europe and Asia from Portugal to China, as well as northern Africa. In North America, it is widely naturalized mostly in the Northeastern United States, eastern Canada and the Great Lakes Region, but also in scattered locations in other parts of the continent. In the US it is sometimes referred to as the "weed orchid" or "weedy orchid" and is increasingly considered invasive, in areas including Michigan, Wisconsin and the San Francisco Bay Area.
Found in woods and hedge-banksand often, in Belfast, not far from paths near human activity. It was even seen in Moscow, right in the middle of the city, including quite large populations. Eight varieties of Epipactis helleborine in central Europe (Lower Silesia, Poland) had their nectar studied and they were found to contain naturally occurring oxycodone (as well as another narcotic like opioid) in minute amounts.
A rather long list of names have been proposed for subspecies, varieties and forms of Epipactis helleborine, far too many to list here. This is not unusual for such a widespread species. At present (June 2014) only the following are accorded international acceptance:
- Epipactis helleborine subsp. bithynica (Robatsch) Kreutz - Turkey
- Epipactis helleborine subsp. degenii (Szentp. & Mónus) Kreutz - Greece
- Epipactis helleborine subsp. densifolia (W.Hahn, Passin & R.Wegener) Kreutz - Turkey
- Epipactis helleborine subsp. helleborine - widespread
- Epipactis helleborine subsp. latina W.Rossi & E.Klein - Italy, former Yugoslavia
- Epipactis helleborine subsp. leutei (Robatsch) Kreutz - Austria, Czech Republic
- Epipactis helleborine subsp. levantina Kreutz, Óvári & Shifman - Turkey
- Epipactis helleborine subsp. molochina (P.Delforge) Kreutz - Spain
- Epipactis helleborine subsp. neerlandica (Verm.) Buttler - Great Britain, Sweden, Belgium, Netherlands, France, Germany
- Epipactis helleborine subsp. orbicularis (K.Richt.) E.Klein - Austria, Czech Republic, Sweden, Germany, Switzerland, France, Spain, Italy, Baltic Republics
- Epipactis helleborine subsp. schubertiorum (Bartolo, Pulv. & Robatsch) Kreutz - Italy
- Epipactis helleborine var. tangutica (Schltr.) S.C.Chen & G.H.Zhu - China
- Epipactis helleborine subsp. tremolsii (Pau) E.Klein - France, Spain, Portugal, Sardinia, Italy, Algeria, Morocco
- Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Species, Epipactis helleborine
- Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, Epipactis helleborine subsp. helleborine, synonyms
- Webb, D.A., Parnell, J. and Doogue,D . 1996. An Irish Flora. Dundalgan Press (W. Tempest) Ltd. Dundalk.ISBN 0-85221-131-7
- Altervista Flora Italiana, Elleborine comune, Epipactis helleborine (L.) Crantz
- Flora of China v 25 p 180, 火烧兰 huo shao lan, Epipactis helleborine (Linnaeus) Crantz
- Flora of North America v 26 p 586, Epipactis helleborine (Linnaeus) Crantz
- Biota of North America Program, county range map
- "World Checklist of Selected Plant Families".
- Clapham, A.R., Tutin, T.G. and Warburg, E.F. 1968. Excursion Flora of the British Isles. Cambridge University Press ISBN 0 521 04656 4
- Beesley, S. and Wild, J. 1997. Urban Flora of Belfast. Institute of Irish Studies and The Queen's University of Belfast. ISBN 0-85389-695 X
- “Why do pollinators become 'sluggish'? Nectar chemical constituents from Epipactis helleborine L. Crantz Orchidaceae”. Applied Ecology & Environmental Research. 2005;3(2):29-38. Jakubska A, Przado D, Steininger M, Aniol-Kwiatkowska A, Kadej M.
- Media related to Broad-leaved Helleborine (Epipactis helleborine) at Wikimedia Commons
- Data related to Broad-leaved Helleborine (Epipactis helleborine) at Wikispecies
- Epipactis helleborine at the Encyclopedia of Life
- Den virtuella floran - Distribution
- Opioids in nectar
- World Checklist of Selected Plant Families TDWG Geocodes