Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Front Page and Index

I took this photo in 2012 and typical of what you expect of a atrorubens photo: B.Yorke  (Click over to enlarge)

"Flowers of a purple colour (both petal and sepal), flowers to two sides of the stem only, a purple stem, leaves opposite one another and at a sharp upright angle etc etc.  But things don't always turn out like that! so please carry on and read these pages and then you may (or may not find) norm even MORE fascinating"

These pages have been started to share with you my research notes together with regular reports of what is happening with the beautiful plants the "EPIPACTIS ATRORUBENS" and E. Helleborine's of what's going on at Hutton Roof Crags. I am currently collating all the information and including much more on a daily basis, so please keep coming back.   

It is such a pleasure to share with you photos and information and should you wish to contact me with questions or anything else please don't hesitate my email address is:


Please click over the indexed items below (shown in red) to go straight to what you want to read or just scroll down if that's what you prefer.

Hutton Roof Crags and it's Reserves - A Short history how it got it's status - together with how many orchids do we have  (complete)

***Help with the Identification of our nationally rare "hybrid" between the Dark Red Helleborine and  the Broad Leaved Helleborine

to include a sketch showing comparisons between atrorubens, helleborine and schmalhauseneii
also a mention of and samples of using denticulation as a "supportive!" aide with identification.


The four natural predators of our orchids  (complete)

Lovely Plants - Straight Atrorubens


Lemon-Petalled Atroruben varieties (at least 2 varieties)


Albiflora (variety of atrorubens)  (complete)

Lutescens and Pallens (variety of atrorubens)

Variagated plants (variety of helleborine) (complete)

Chlorantha (variety of helleborine) (complete)

Purpurea (variety of helleborine)  (complete)

Westmorlandii (variety of helleborine) (complete)


Epipactis Schmalhauseneii (the hybrid itself)

includes: Specimen 8,9,9a,10,15,16,70
also resulting "weak twisted stem specimens which maybe F1"

Interesting plants to get to the bottom of

Unanswered situations
Interesting unusual specimens
Specimens still not classified and the verdict is out!


My beloved Hutton Roof,
A special place for Epipactis and a place where
The straight forward has become the rarity
And the rarity has become the norm.

Rubens or Borines which do you want?
A Schmalhauseneii mix for you Sir!
Today can be the purple wash,
Tomorrow can be the green wash.

But we have some green ovary specials,
With a brownier flower to bear and stare,
Called No.9, 9a,9b,9c and so on and on and on
And away until they are gone!

We have some Lemon Petalled beauties,
Small, mediums and largest and blessed,
Green stems or purple stems we have the mix,
Stunning our pupil since 2014 that’s young

What about a Palens Ma’am,
In Lutescens mix or you can have a green cream flavour,
Both are staring “wimperley” but this is only part
Of a start of something far more special.

Here we have the very first on English soil I am told,
Called “Albiflora” and what a little gem it was
It lacks a lot of colour dear “Albi” green and  white,
I even looked through transparency at some of its sight!

Make a path to the bottom of this hill
Where flowers of purpurea live out their days,
It’s a sort of red wine colour they display some years,
Darker with canopy, lighter with sun.

To my North I can see a Helleborine change
Which is so pale and bright!
Often called a special or by name
Viridiflora’s sight.

(Poem I wrote July 2016)

Lovely Plants - Straight Epipactis Atrorubens

Specimen 56 (Click over to enlarge)

Probably has straight as you will get

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Interesting Plants we have still to get to the bottom of!

So close, yet so far away (Click over to enlarge) (Photo: Bryan Yorke 2016)

I see this so many times when you get plants of the same family close together but with totally different characteristics just like these two.  On the left side you have the straightforward (as we know it!) Atrorubens yet on the right at a distance of only 14" away we have a specimen showing signs of "Yellow Petalled". How can things be so different yet so close! I guess its all a mystery for now.


Specimen 65 (12th July 2016)

Specimen 65 - a really interesting atrorubens (Click over photo to enlarge)
(Photo: Bryan Yorke 12th July 2016)
This particular plant which I found last year (2016) was striking on several accounts. For one its strong opposite colours stood out a mile.  It had a couple of pointers which had strong resemblance to E. Helleborine possible input, whilst at the same time recognizing it had to be a "atrorubens"!

The area were this was found has a grand old mixture about it, with several E. Helleborine, some with a very light phase and a odd one bordering the "chlorantha stage" (Helleborine observed a couple of weeks later), also there are a couple of schmalhauseneii (hybrids) closeby, also some lemon petalled etc etc all within a few metres of the plant.

Specimen 65 showing a more close up of the top section (Click over photo to enlarge)
(Photo: Bryan Yorke 12th July 2016)

Specimen 65 showing a close up of the head (Click over photo to enlarge)
(Photo: Bryan Yorke 12th July 2016)

These two specimens have not yet been assessed but look very interesting (Click over to enlarge)
They are very close to the main activity  (Photo: Bryan Yorke 8th July 2016)

Sunday, 1 January 2017

"Westmorlandii" (Helleborine variant)

Epipactis helleborine var: westmorlandii  found 2014 (Click over to enlarge)

We first found this special plant in 2014 although it was very feeble at first and it's got stronger each year. The photo above are from 2016.  Although I do have previous years photos on record, this year has been the first time when it has actually showed its open flowers.  In past years its flowers have been closed with tight bud which never opened. Although the "dangling" appearance did bring excitement.

The plant has and still is being considered by some has being Epipactis Phyllanthes (variant: probably pendula) and this is how it was provisionally recorded for the past three years. So we do have two orchid authorities who are still in favour of this title being retained, yet we do also have four other orchid authorities who are quite convinced it is a Epipactis helleborine (new variant), and one that is worthy of the name "Westmorlandii".

It has been great to have such authorities look over the plant and give me their valued opinions, although at present I still feel that there has not been any satisfactory outcome. The photos have been checked and double checked, the features have been measured, its denticulation patterns used purely as a supportive role gave a "helleborine" pattern returned, the geographical have all been considered.

I have decided to go along with "helleborine" species although obviously its a new rare variant. I don't think for one minute it is a "one off" because there have been two others in its close proximity which although very frail and weak (and one did not flower in 2016) but the other is possible of this same variety. Thankfully when the plant was receeding I did manage to get its leaf (under permit) and this will be sent off for possible DNA analysis. In the meantime for my reference I will go with Epipactis Helleborine var: Westmorlandii


Mystery Plant on Burton Fell, Hutton Roof Crags (Cumbria Wildlife Reserve)
            First photograph of the plant showing the flowers and this is what started the interest of which there has been and still is much interest (names have been removed for this document)

For two years prior to 2016 it was suggested that the plant could have been Epipactis Phyllanthes (var: probably pendula) and this is how it was recorded for the past three years.

I was happy with the diagnosis of Phyllanthes, until R****** kindly sent me his photo of the Cilia of the leaf edges of the plant which straight away made alarm bells ring out for me and this ensued to make me feel unsure of the plant being Phyllanthes. I felt that the photo which R****** sent me was of Epipactis Helleborine and could not interpret any similarity to Phyllantes. I also did manage to take a photo of the cilia which again confirmed for me E. Helliborine.  Here I am showing R***** photo and also the lovely examples I were given years ago by M****** and also more photos of denticulation by S*** and both these examples show what the Cilia should look like.

First of all here is R****** sample from the actual plant:


Other than a slight irregular interruption at one third from the left hand side all the rest of the Cilia points to Epipactis Helleborine (in my opinion).

I will now show two samples of denticulation photos I have showing you the regular Epipactis Helleborine:

  The above E. Helleborine denticulation photograph was kindly given to me by M******

              The above E. Helleborine denticulation photograph was kindly given to me by S***


The above E. Phyllanthes denticulation photograph was kindly given to me by M******

A very good description of the E. Phyllanthes cilia was said to me recently that it should look very much “like a hedgehog bearing Alopeachia”.  Because in my mind this evidence does bear descrepency (for me) within the actual Cilia photo and its comparitives I could not see where the plant has the Phyllanthes fingerprint at least in regard to the cilia photograph earlier, the leaning in my opinion here lends itself more to the denticulation of  Epipactis Helliborine using the above photos as a guide together with the many hundreds of denticulation patterns I have seen over the years.


Having tried to give my clear views on the “Cilia” I would now like to turn to yet another very important feature (for me) which would be the presence of a “viscidium”.  I have evidence from the earliest of my photos which I took on 27th July 2016  (below) which clearly shows the viscidium.

             Earliest photo which was taken on 27th July 2016 clearly shows a “Viscidium” present

From my understanding Epipactis Phyllanthes does not have a “viscidium” present by the time the flower opens, yet Epipactis Helleborine always has a viscidium at the point of the flower opening, and here in this photo we have one which can just about be seen and which is normal during the early stages of flowering for E. Helleborine


Another factor that needs consideration is the colour of the Inner Hypochile which in this flower shows a light caramel coloured brown which you would not expect to see on Phyllanthes. You would generally expect to see pale green although according to “Orchids of Britain Harrop & Harrop” it states that sometimes it is “lightly washed brown”. Again if we were lucky enough to have a Phyllanthes on Hutton Roof what are the odds that it should turn up with a “lightly washed brown or caramel inner hyperchile” surely the odds have to weigh in favour of this not happening with just the slimmest of chances that it could. This again to me throws a certain amount of doubt on our plant being “Phyllanthes!

The ovary on our plant is fairly smooth and shiny with just the slightest of hairs which would be difficult to see without a glass. The ovary is six-ribbed with a stalk which is green for 95%, although at the point just where it tapers at the very junction with the stalk I can see the slightest of darker colouring which again is a typical feature of E. Helleborine.

      Showing the early photo which was taken on 27th July 2016 shows the junctions where the stalk sets to the stem


The Epichile is “heart shaped” on the mystery plant and is showing lots of purple colour at the point where the two bosses are and directly below this area is a vertical line of green (midrib) showing prominent when you look on close up.  Also the “lip” at the base of the epichile is slightly reflexed and pointing downward.  In this unusual case the epichile is longer than wide a trait not often associated with helleborine.  Other than this length versus width situation, all other aspects of the epichile with emphasis especially on the colour is more associated with Epipactis Helleborine.


Petals are just slightly smaller than the very noticeable pointed Sepals, yet this is associated with both species


Geographical Location is very interesting – Our mystery plant is found at approx. 700-750 ft above sea level which I am led to believe would be totally irregular for Phyllanthes especially in South Cumbria yet normal for Helliborine.  Phyllanthes are not expected to be seen above 650ft which would in turn having seeded in excess of its upper limits on Hutton Roof.  Recorded distribution in Cumbria have been found at far lower levels and the two main established sites in Cumbria for the phyllanthes species are at Sandscale and North Walney which are more or less at sea level.
With this in mind I find it rather strange that Phyllanthes would pick such a place to set seed.  Additionally we (A*** and I) last year searched nearby beechwoods to see if we could find other Phyllanthes specimens.  Unfortunately we drew a blank.

(Personal) Conclusion (for my records)

I can understand how the plant could well look like Phyllanthes especially with its “hanging” large ovary and flower drooping appearance and again with the single leaf holding on to and part encircling the stem and perhaps more upright. 

I have now been able to consult with my textbooks which have been Orchids of Britain by Harrop and Harrop and also Delforge.

I have also been very privileged to have had kind suggestion, opinion, advice, expertise and photographs and good general discussion about this particular plant, along with lots of help from other Orchid lovers who have travelled the width and breadth of the Country to see the plant.  They have included...........................  (ALL NAMES HAVE BEEN REMOVED BEFORE THIS DOCUMENT WAS MADE PUBLIC) but to them of which they know who they are I am so grateful for their kind help, advice and knowledge.

As far as my friends are concerned it has now reached a “mixed decision” with 4 going for Helliborine and 3 going for Phyllanthes and 2 whom I have no idea what they think.

It’s been so difficult for me to be able to decide on this one, but after studying all the facts I have had at my disposal, along with all the quality opinions and expertise people have shared with me, together by the fact that I go up there almost daily to view the plant on its day to day progress, along with all the photographic evidence, I have decided that for me I am now quite satisfied that the plant would be:

Epipactis Helleborine and one of which I feel is a "new" variant and worthy of the grand title of (var: Westmorlandii) 

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Chlorantha - (Helleborine) Variant

Chlorantha (Helleborine) Variant -  (Click over to enlarge)

This is a little beauty and stands at about 16" high and is strikingly light coloured. It matches up with Chlorantha in 99% with all points being a light green and cream with no traces of red or purple. The inner hypochile (cup) is also light green.  Its difficult to see in this photograph. The 1% I am not too happy about is the small stalk that connects the ovary to the stem itself does show a slight light brown colour which you don't get with a pure "Chlorantha" which would be green in colour.

This photo shows the brown stalks circled in red which I mentioned earlier
 which would be green on a pure "Chlorantha"
(Photo: Bryan Yorke)

The specimen lies deep within a small copse and is in close proximity to Specimen 15 and 16 Schmalhausenii plus other atrorubens.  Also within a metre you can find the first of several beautiful specimens of helleborine which stand well above a metre.  Some of these fall into the straight forward category of Broad Leaved Helleborine but within a small distance (2ft) lies a pair of beauties which qualify for the title of "Purpurea variant" and have that purple throughout.

I also have another couple of very light helleborine specimens on Hutton Roof Crags which meet the criteria in 75% of the case but can be discounted from the "Chlorantha" by having a dark coloured inner hypochile.

Purpurea Variant (Helleborine)

This for me has been the darkest "purpurea" specimen (Specimen 1 Purpurea) I have had so far  (Click over to enlarge)
I took this photo on July 29th 2014 and the specimen lies within canopy some 10ft from the woodland edge,
 another plant closeby also shows similar colours.

Its probably gone on for years, yet it was about four years ago that I started to notice that certain small populations of E.helleborines were far more purple coloured than the norm, some so dense in colour just like the one above, although most were a lesser but more regular purple like the ones in the photos below.

Another thing I did notice about these heavily purple coloured plants was that they all were recorded lying within canopy with plenty of shade and were on the fringes of copse or woodland, with occasional plants well into the canopy by some ten to fifteen foot. There are two or three places in particular on the Hutton Roof Crags that can produce small populations of this "Purpurea" variety. One area in particular may have as many as 5 or 6 in a small area of say 10ft square. (see sketch below)

Specimen No.3 Purpurea - I took this photo on 10th August 2016 (Click over photo to enlarge)

I guess all this is to do with photo-synthesis, and the area not getting enough direct sunlight must have something to do with it all.  I do know this that it produces some fine looking specimens just like this one above which I took only last year (2016).  This plant was not too far away from Specimen One (purpurea) which I showed earlier.

This is a very nice plant (Specimen 15 purpurea) within a small population
which is shown in the (See sketch below) - photo taken Aug 28th 2012
  (Click over to enlarge)

There is much variation in the amount of purple from plant to plant.  They can look stunning especially with a contrast to green ovary bracts and stems just like the above sample.

The sketch further down shows the area were I first discovered sample No.15 (Purpurea) see below - which was a stunning plant in 2012

Spec No 15 purpurea - photo taken in 2012 (Click over to enlarge)

Its quite obvious from my photos that 2012 was a great year for the "purpurea", but this is not how it goes from year to year.  If you check out the following photo (below) you will see the same plant (Spec No. 15 purpurea) the following year (2013) which has come through a little stunted in height to previous years, but more noticeable was that the buds of the flower actually died off and "aborted" long before coming through has a flower.  All you actually saw was a sort of brown burnt out bud (you can see this in the photo) and you were eventually left with a bare plant with no flowers.

I often wonder if this "abortive" state is a result of the plant having to have put so much more on the previous year with regards to the depth of colour for the flower. You will see from the sketch below that we did have five plants which came through showing this abortive state, whilst others in the same collective came through as normal.  Yet all the same flowers showed exceptionally well in the previous year (2012)

This is a sketch I did in 2013 showing the population but lots of aborted flowers (Click over to enlarge)

In 2016 I had another plant of this species which also produced something similiar (see below).  It was far away from the above population and also a isolated case.  Again on the edge of a copse, I found this small stunted plant again with evidence of burnt out abortive buds. Also this specimen showed to be stunted in its growth especially towards the plume area with bracts squashing down on one another.   The photos below show you how the plants came through.  


Variagated Variety (Helleborine)

Showing two photos of the Variagated  (Click over photo to enlarge)

This is a very interesting plant I found this last year (2016).  Its variagated form is quite striking.  The plant (E. Helleborine) stands at about 10" high and close (within 12") to another helleborine plant which is normal. This plant is coming up to the South facing side of a small bush.  Another interesting fact about this particular plant is that when you check the "denticulation pattern" on its leaf edges, the pattern you see resembles more in favour of "Atrorubens" although all other features seem to be helleborine. Though obviously this is so interesting!

Also to add to the variagated mystery we found yet another plant but only at seedling stage with two large basal leaves formed some 30 yards to the North West of the main plant (see photo below), and also found another one at seedling stage with large variagated leaves at about 200 yards South of the main plant.  So it will interesting to see how these turn out during 2017.

This is the seedling which lies approx 30 yards North West of the Main Plant (Click over to enlarge)

This is the seedling which lies approx 30 yards North West of the Main Plant, and is well under canopy of a nearby copse and fully covered in and restricted to light.  It's also a area which has some very large helleborines.  I will be keeping my eye on this plant for 2017.