Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Predation, Ailments and Abnormalities of the Epipactis of Hutton Roof Crags

There are four known predators to our local Epipactis which are the following:-

Roebuck photo I took over near Beetham (Click over to enlarge)

I have found that the Roe Deer have been the main predator and usually you can tell by the way it just 

"snips off the top section of the flowers and leaves the bottom 6" of stem.  Also the snip or cut tends to be more "straight across or horizontal" cut or just at a slight angle".

Shows a typical "Roe Deer" hoover up where he hits small populations all in one swoop! (Click over to enlarge)
You can see from this photo that the cut is almost straight across (not always) and this is how I can tell the predator, because the hare will always "snip" at a sharpish angle. Usually like you see here the deer has taken the top of the plant eg: the flowers and bracts and leaves the majority of the stem and the leaves to rot down. (This photo was taken on 25th June 2017)

Again Roe Deer predation - 20th July 2017 (Click over to enlarge)

The above photo shows clear "Roe Deer predation against some fine Helleborine specimens of between 3 to 4ft high with super laden flowerheads until the deer decided to clear out all ten specimens in this area in one single "Swoop" - I just felt I had to use the word "devastation" in this case. Again note the slight difference with the incision it has started to cut and then rip so you get that straight across (horizontal) cut typical of Roe Deer, but just 9/10 way through it is ripped and you see a little bit of the stem not cut through properly, again its a regular trait to see cuts like this.

Typical Roe Deer "snip" to one of our better Helleborines. (Click over to enlarge)
And here you can see a typical deer snip on one of our better helleborines, you may note the almost lumpy horizontal cut with no or little angle to the incision!.  Another annoying thing is that like you see in the above photo they for some reason leave the bulk of the plant only taking the flowerhead and upper bracts. (Photo taken on 24th June 2017)

For me the following example is a "one off". Usually the deer will cut and then that's it for the plant in that year. Yet below I show you a photo of a really strange situation which happened back in 2012. When a Roe Deer did cut the top section of a E. Helleborine and three weeks later I found the plant had actually grown a completely new top section.  It appeared "forced" because it was well short of pigmention.  But at least it does prove the point that if circumstances are right a "compensated" top section can be achieved!!

2017 Update:  Strangely the same thing happened to the same plant again in August 2017 and with the same results.  I just noticed it again had a compensated head.

A helleborine plant were the top section was snipped off by the local Roe Deer and three
weeks later I noticed a new (but forced) plant head had grown in its place.  This is the one
and only time that I have ever seen such a thing happen. By the way this plant did not
come through the following year, but was seem again in 2017.
Click over photo to enlarge (Photo: Bryan Yorke  11th August 2012)

11th July 2017 (Click over to enlarge)
Another example of a "compensated head" but this time
on a atrorubens

Our second main predator will be our local "Brown Hares".
The trouble here is that sometimes they just snip
 the flower and leave it dangling - and guess what?
 sometimes it can be our prized schmalhauseneii

A fabulous photo of the Brown Hare thanks to Andy Holden

 Epipactis schmalhauseneii (Hybrid)
17th July 2019 - Hutton Roof

Up to today this was one of our prized
 hybrids, but I see Mr. Brown Hare
 has been around overnight
 and again done his usual trick, 
just snips of the lovely flowerhead
 which is then left dangling
 to rot away....always doing this trick! 

Why on earth does Mr. Brown Hare do this!!! I see this behaviour everyday during the orchid season, when he goes up to orchids and just bites through them and leaves them there to rot away without even bothering to eat them!!

Typical Brown Hare predation (Click over to enlarge)
Photo: Schmal 15,16 and 16a taken on 24th June 2017.
This is typical of Brown Hare predation, were here he has taken out completely 16a, and "snipped" on 16 leaving the head dangling.  It happened to the same bunch of plants in 2015 has you can see from the photo below.

Specimens 15 and 16 succumb to Brown Hare predation c2015 (Click over to enlarge)

This was a prime plant (Nos 40 and 40a) Lempets which were both fine on 5th July 2017 as you can see in the following photo:

Specimen 40 and 40a (Lempets) on 5th July 2017

Yet Mr. Hare struck overnight and when I checked out the plants the following day 6th July 2017 both flowerheads had disappeared as you can see in the following photo.  The give away clue to the culprit is the diagonal incisor cut from the Brown Hare.

Specimen 40 and 40a (Lempets on 6th July 2017

Specimen No.14 showing Hare predation and then leaving flowerhead in a small pile (Click over to enlarge)

"snips or cuts are usually recognisable when it comes to hares, and shows with a definite 45 degree angle cut or snip".


Our third predator is the Slug and he will acount for several casualties especially in areas of retained dampness eg in grykes or other congested areas.

The Slug
(below) shows a "atrorubens" which has been predated with a slug.  You could easily be forgiven for thinking it is a deer because its a reasonably good horizontal snip but when you check it carefully you see its full of "slug slime" in the circled areas. 

(Click over to enlarge)
Slug predation on atrorubens on 26th June 2017
And below and finally our fourth predator is the "Black Aphid", who has been responsible for taking down some of our best Schmalhauseneii specimen.  They invade the plant and take the life from it by sucking it dry, and you see clearly the infestation just like the photo below shows.  Also you see the large Black Ants which accompany the aphids and they take on the roll of farmer.

And below shows you what is left of Schmalhauseneii specimen No.8 whilst going through Aphid predation.

And finally here is a photo of how No.8 looked in its former glory:

Specimen No.8 (Click over photo to enlarge) Photo taken by myself on 7th July 2014
(20th August 2017) (below) Black Aphid and Meadow Ants predation on one of our Helleborines on the Escarpment - taken yesterday. Usually the larger Black Ants are the farmers but this year one or two of the plants have had the Meadow Ants doing the job

Black Aphid and Meadow Ant predation on a e.helleborine
Photo taken 20th August 2017

Other problems with our Orchids

Spotted problem on helleborine near area 70s.

I have not yet got to the bottom of it but this plant which lies just one metre under the canopy shows black spots and marks on the sepals, ovaries, bracts and stem.

About 20 yards away is another very small 10" high helleborine which is completely in the open and this to shows the stem with some sort of black spot disease

A 10" Helleborine showing similar Black Spot - see next photo
Same Helleborine (Click over to enlarge)

Specimen 55i (below) - "Burn out"

Burn Out in 55i on 21st August 2017
The "burn out" seen here can be seen on several plants over the season, and although you do expect it to be damage caused from sunburn, I am not too sure whether this is always the case or not!  The above photo was taken on 21st August 2017.  About ten days when I last checked out this plant it had gone over and had super large ovaries, yet ten days later this is the result, yet over that period there has not been any really hot sun just at times average medium sunshine.

Here are photos of the same Orchid in its prime:

55i - suspected hybrid (Click over to enlarge)
Shows a atrorubens specimen with "Burn" on 7th July 2018
(Click over to enlarge)

Dieback through severe Draught 

Beautiful Specimens Atrorubens No.40 duo stopped in mid growth through severe dehydration during
June 2018 (Click over to enlarge) - This has happened to scores of plants this year


Abnormalities (stem division)

A very special orchid - a Dark Red Helleborine
 (Epipactis atrorubens) 
branched specimen 

Epipactis atrorubens - rare branched specimen
Found and photographed on 8th July 2019

on Hutton Roof - Cumbria Wildlife Trust (Cumbria)

Epipactis atrorubens - split stem division
I found this on 5th July 2019 Hutton Roof

Epipactis atrorubens - split stem division

I found this on 5th July 2019 Hutton Roof


Abnormalities (abortive buds and/or bract or leaf compression)

(Bract compression within E.atrorubens)

I have also had a similar situation of a specimen found in 2017 (see photo below).  This time it is again "bract compression with abortive buds" but on a E.Atrorubens. This specimen was found on Escarp.  I also found another similar example the same year quite close to Schmal specimens 15s and probably some 50 yards East to this example. 

Bract compression and bud abortion but this time in Atrorubens 30th July 2017 (Click over to enlarge)

Examples of 'bract' compression within E. helleborine

Here below is Specimen No.15 E. Helleborine) which came through in 2013 a little stunted in height compared to observations back in 2012, 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 lower down) and you were eventually left with a bare plant with no flowers. The spike looking more like a television aerial. So I wonder what had caused this premature abortive problem together with any bract compression?

Spec No.15 E. Helleborine in 2013 which came through with abortive buds etc

Spec No.15 E. Helleborine in 2013 which came through with abortive buds etc

Also you can see from the sketch below that we did have a further five plants which came through showing this same 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)
These plants shown above all came through OK in 2014 but have never fully recovered to how they were back in 2012, most of the plants have become more stunted with lesser quantities of flowers etc. Obviously some long term damage has occurred in the build of these plants. This still remains the case in 2019


In 2016 I had another plant of this same species which also produced something similiar (see below). It was far away from the above population (by over one mile) and in this instance was also a isolated case.  Again on the edge of a copse, yet this I guess is where you would expect to find helleborine, at least in the majority of cases.  I found this small stunted plant which also shows evidence of burnt out or abortive buds. Also this specimen was showed to be stunted in the upper spike with compressed bracts squashing down on one another.   The photos below show you how the plant came through.  The following year (2017) the plant did recover, and all was normal with the plant production as far as I could tell. 

"Another case of  Bract Compression" in E. Helleborine 2016 (Click over to enlarge)
Note: burnt out or undeveloped buds in centre of bracts - sample near to area 15

"Showing Bract Compression" in E. Helleborine 2016 (Click over to enlarge)
Note: burnt out or undeveloped buds in centre of bracts - sample near to area 15

Leaf compression within E. atrorubens or schmalhauseneii...

Specimen 17b

This is a strange one! but also a little beauty - Epipactis atrorubens or a E. Schmalhauseneii?
Flowers showing here, though very much compressed leaves, the leaves in past years with this particular plant have always shown to be very vigorous and so big for the stature of the plant, I do suspect introgression here from Helleborine though at the moment still labelling 'undecided'. From the 17s populations
Photo: 11th July 2019 - Hutton Roof

And here below is a photo from 2017 which shows how the plant would normally be but note the beautiful vigorous leafing it shows:

Specimen 17b on 8th July 2017

Epipactis ?
Photo: 17th July 2019 - Hutton Roof
Leaf compression

Twice this week I have seen this happen (leaf compression) on two separate specimens, the other specimen is a small schmalhauseneii hybrid and lies about 200 yards from this one (see photo above). 

At the base there are good solid atrorubens or schmal leaves and you see where the upper leaves have compressed into this rosette with no flowers. 

Leaf compression within E. helleborine

Epipactis helleborine
Photo: 18th July 2019
Leaf compression in helleborine

Epipactis helleborine
Photo: 18th July 2019
Leaf compression in helleborine