(E.atrorubens x E.helleborine)"
When you have 223 E.helleborines and 800 E.atrorubens lying almost next to one another in such a small area as 650x500 metre why on earth would you not expect hybridization between species in the same family genus!
Variance of helleborine is well known,
but hybrid or even further down the line to introgression is a totally different concept of which I think I am learning a little, but rather quickly.
The ovaries to all specimens shown below seem to be dark and of a mixed brownish to greenish in general colour and showing a dark striping like variagation of sorts. The ovaries seem to be generally hairy in this possible hybrid and far more than you would expect in any regular Broad leaved helleborine to my knowledge, but more so to the darker parts of the ovary rib whilst the lighter parts seem to be more glabrous. Also I have noticed that the peduncels are generally ranging in colour between a dark brown to almost a deep purple and they again are very hairy.
All these dark specimens lie within a local area of about 50 metres diameter approx and are intermingled with nearby regular classic helleborines together with many varietal forms and all the dark stemmed have reasonable distances between one another. I am not aware of anymore of these dark stemmed specimens anywhere else on Hutton Roof, although obviously this could be possible. This contained or close proximity of these dark stems gives much added weight to a possible argument in regards to the greater possibility of a hybrid cluster, rather than it be spread over a larger distance. Or is it just a matter of ground contamination making these differences.
It was about four years ago that I first started to notice a single dark stemmed plant which I did then take to be a helleborine to the SW side of Burton Fell although it did seem to have so many other atroruben features which really did seem strange (Specimen 70), I always held great suspicion of this plant that it could well have been a possible hybrid but never sure because of the colour and strange profile of the build. The plant has been given the designation of 70c, which 70 represents the area where it resides and "c" denotes its the fourth plant of interest within that given area. This plant has come through annually since 2016, and may well have been established much earlier, but until this year 2020 I had never seen it in flower, for it always seem to fall victim to predation and prematurely lost its inflorescence before flowering, but this year I managed to get it caged and the result is at long last I have seen typical helleborine flowers from it. I will go into the studies and photo's of this plant later. Just for the record the plant has not shown in 2021.
Note: Stem colour top dark brown bottom dark green.
This is showing SW8 above
and gives a good example to the hairiness of the plant,
especially noted on the stem, ovaries and peduncels.
Specimen SW7 (probable hybrid)
This next plant SW8 also shows plenty of signs of something going on and can be easily studied from the following photos. The plant is coming through an established Juniper bush and seems to have got twisted in its growing process. The inflorescence is showing very dark in colour and also the lower part of the stem again shows this very dark whilst the mid section of the stem is lighter green.
The absolute give away for me just has to be the amount of strong hairiness of the stem, ovaries and peduncels, also the dark comes through the closed buds and lateral sepals, and another good dianostic point has to be the strong crennulations on the edges of the epichile.
70c and although first discovered around 2016, this is the very first
Specimen SW 1 and 2
Also this year 2020 I have found a twin further down on the next pavement below these are called SW Brown 1 and 2. Sadly SW2 has been taken down at the inflorescence, yet SW Brown 1 has survived and here you can see the full plant with flowers (Photo below).