Variance of helleborine maybe one thing,
but introgression is a totally different and possible concept.
Simple, probable identification diagnostics from shape of leaves, spiralling of leaves up the stem and the colour of the stem, the inflorescence and flower spiralling and bunching, denticulation features of leaf edges etc
(without dna or other scientific analysis).
(Classic Epipactis helleborine, then going on to show examples of possible introgression with Epipactis atrorubens)
first of all take a look here at the classic Epipactis helleborine (Broad leaved) and in particular the
spiralling of the large leaves around the stem
Epipactis helleborine - showing a close up of the leaves spiralling up the stem
Above Suspected Epipactis schmalhauseneii (hybrid)
Click over to enlarge
(Above) A good example showing of a probable hybrid, with (chunky) leaves spiralling up the stem
of the plant, which in turn may suggest some part (E.helleborine introgression) with a E. Atrorubens plant. This feature is by no means conclusive
in all probable hybrids, in fact relatively few. Yet is another pointer and worthy of some consideration.
Spiralling in both L and R photos
L = E. Helleborine (spiralling) Centre = E.atrorubens ( NO spiralling and distichous) R = thought to be a probable (Hybrid) with chunky leaves and (spiralling)
Above we have good side by side examples of spiralling and non-spiralling leaves. In the first photo on the left is a typical classic E.helleborine, then in the centre photo we have a classic atrorubens which would not normally show any signs of spiralling just straight leaves shown on alternative opposite sides to the stem (distichous), but the photo on the right is a suspected hybrid. This photo shows probable introgression in the make up between both the helleborine and atrorubens subsequently creating a "spiralling of the leaves up the stem" effect.
THIS SPIRALLING FEATURE CAN BE one of the aids to help with identification of a hybrid. Although it is not always the case, a lot of the suspected hybrids may not even have spiralling leaves going up the stem, whilst they may continue to show the alternative opposites leaves (distichous) eg: classic E.atrorubens profile, although some do show spiralling, a lot of it must depends on which parent takes the lead obviously with the spiralling effect you would suspect the parent to be the helleborine, whereby the atroruben parent will have been responsible for other signs in particular the flower. I personally give consideration to this id trait whilst also considering other factors in combination at the same time.
I also have included this further example below which again shows both the E. helleborine on the left and a probable (hybrid) on the right. Note the hybrid (in this particular case) shows a dark hairy stem, although I have found dark stemmed hybrids to be in the minority of hi-vigour hybrids up here on Hutton Roof with the majority of probable hybrids showing with the LIGHT GREEN stem, which to me represents the possibility (and only a possibility) of introgression from the E.helleborine parent, but I would like to go into far more detail on the stem colours variations and their importance in a later section of these pages.
Spiralling of leaves up the stem
left: E.helleborine and right is a probable hybrid
(Above) Also worth noting on the right hand photo (probable hybrid) it shows very concave dishy leaves, this concave feature can be seen only on occasional suspected high vigour suspected hybrid specimens and is certainly not a regular feature so for me would not be considered as a definite diagnostic aid, although it is certainly worthy of note that it crops up from time to time, and in some cases will usually result in a probable hybrid.
Another example of both spiralling together with strong bunched
chunky leaves at the base of the plant on our 17a. I have always
held strong suspicion of introgression with this special plant.
photo taken on 7th July 2017
Another diagnostic aid for me can be large dishy basal and lower leaves which you may see occasionally on hybrid specimens
These photos show Left = E. helleborine, Centre left - E. atrorubens, Centre right = probable hybrid, Right = probable hybrid.
(see photo below). yet in mid June 2020 the plant and its partner fell victim of browsing.
Stem Colour Variations
For me one of the pointers toward possible hybrid diagnosis may lie partially in the LIGHT GREEN stem varieties, which I feel may go a long way in favour of probable introgression, though this remains to be confirmed either way.
As far as Hutton Roof is concerned I surveyed the areas for at least two years back in 2012/2013, before I actually found my first light green stemmed atrorubens which is shown here.
My very first "light green stemmed" found in 2013 on Hybrid Hill, Hutton Roof
Most of the regular classic atroruben stems will fall into the following colour categories eg: dark brown/purple to medium and very occasionally even light colour variations or they will take on the very dark dirty green colour through to medium variations. Here in the next photo you see some examples of these regular colours....
Variant stem colours within Classic atrorubens
Top: dirty green through to mid green
Bottom: Dark Brown/Purple through to mid and even light brown.
Above is an example of a specimen I checked on 23rd June 2020 and 90% of which showed a purple stem as you may expect with a classic Atrorubens, but when I looked close I noticed it showed some light green showing through which I personally would consider possible introgression with helleborine
17a possible hybrid shows here a mixed stem on the right photo
You will see the bottom to show hirsute, yet the stem soon goes into glabrous
7th July 2017
The above photo shows 17a which is a considered possible hybrid which in 2017 showed leaf compression as you see in this photo, but probably as interesting when you look close is the stem of which you note the bottom part is hirsute whilst 75% of the upper stem is Glabrous - a very mixed picture.
The next photos (below) show typical Epipactis helleborine which always show a very light green stem . You do get variant light shades of green but this is typical of a LIGHT GREEN RANGE and can be noted similar to the four photos I have included here.
Typical LIGHT GREEN variations in the stems of Epipactis helleborine
In the next photograph I will show some VERY LIGHT GREEN STEM variant specimens of probable hybrids (or for that matter light green stemmed atrorubens, if there could ever be such a thing! what a difference from the photos of the classic atrorubens shown earlier.
This light green could well be yet another factor of E.helleborine/E.atrorubens introgression with a prime factor of E. Helleborine taking over the stem properties of a otherwise atrorubens flower led plants. Most of these examples shown below I have already considered to be possible hybrids
So I give considerations when I see a very light green stem showing on a atroruben type flowered plant because these can be the first and best indications of the start to probable introgression of sorts, although like I keep on saying, there is still no definitive, it is only another aid to try and help with diagnostics of the hybrid
So summing up, the VERY LIGHT GREEN stems on a (atroruben type flower) led plant gives me a strong suspicion that introgression may well have taken place and subsequently there maybe the probability of a hybrid influence, YET this is only part of the story because occasionally odd DARK stems may also be considered to be candidates for possible hybrids as well, yet so early on in my research, I have only ever had a couple of these to consider.
So it's just another factor to be considered when trying to diagnose the hybrid
Finally one other consideration worth bearing in mind. On Hutton Roof we do have the rare "Pallens or pale forms" which are considered a variety of atrorubens. Now all the specimens of Pallens do have LIGHT GREEN STEMS typical of what we have already mentioned above. So I wonder just what we may be dealing with here! eg: are they really a variety (and not a type of hybrid) or are they some sort of leucistic plant? For now personally I am not bringing these varieties into the equasion. They are only but a light or pallid formed variety!!
Photos of the variety "Pallens" which we have on Hutton Roof
Another great supportive aid for identification can be by using leaf edge "denticulation"...........
|40x Denticulation photo of "atrorubens" used as a supportive aid to identification (photo: Sean Cole)|
|A x40 denticulation photo of E. Helleborine kindly shared by Sean Cole|
|x40 denticulation of possible E. Schmallhausenii. Photo kindly shared by Sean Cole|
|This is yet another examble of "denticulation" of the E. Helleborine (Photo: Mike Wilcox)|
Other factors of possible introgression indicators I am currently checking out are:
Purple hairy Ovaries showing small sections of light green glabrous patches throughout the ovary.
Stems showing green and light green mix with both hairy and glabrous mixture.