|Epipactis helleborine var: westmorlandii found 2014 (Click over to enlarge)|
I first found this special plant in 2014 although it was very feeble at first and it got stronger over the following two years. The photos above are from 2016 when it was at its best. 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 previous two years. So we do have two orchid authorities who are still in favour of this Phyllanthes label being retained, yet we do also have four other orchid authorities who are quite convinced it is a Epipactis helleborine - aberrant (a new variant), and one that I personally think is worthy of the temporary name "Westmorlandii". Suggesting such a local name for the interim makes it so much easier for index and reference purposes.
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 and the geographical have all been considered.
For now! I have decided to go along with "helleborine" although obviously it would be a new rare variant. I don't think for one minute it is a "one off" because there have been two others found 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 receding I did manage to get its leaf (under permit) and this will be sent off for possible DNA analysis when possible.
Since writing above, even more information can now be added (with kind permissions obtained)......
This is extracted from Jon Dunn's book "Orchid Summer" Chapter 14 p278 -
My correspondent had sent his detailed notes and photographs to one of Europe's leading Epipactis orchid experts, Jean Claessens of the Naturalis Biodiversity Centre at Leiden in Holland. Jean's reply threw the debate over this unusual plant wide open again.
"I saw the functional viscidium of Epipactis phyllanthes (on the)
Ile d'Oleron in France myself. It shows how allogamous
features can occur in autogamous species.
As to your Epipactis the colouration of the lip is remarkable
indeed. The photos clearly point towards phyllanthes/confusa........"
|This was as good as it got! in 2017 (Click over to enlarge)|
The photo was taken on 29th June.
Sadly no definite plant appeared during 2018 although the site was constantly checked out almost daily. A couple of strange looking plants started to grow quite close by and these were immediately caged and secured. But over the following fortnight clearly went backwards and deteriated. At this time we had been going through a severe heatwave and everything had become parched and most of the helleborines had stopped producing and dying back. So guess it was also their bad luck to have hit this period full on.