Tuesday, 4 August 2020

Dark Stemmed possible Hybrids Epipactis schmalhauseneii - (E.helleborines x E. Atrorubens) with "helleborine lead" on Hutton Roof



“I always wanted to find a
Helleborine “led” hybrid which is called Epipactis schmalhauseneii (E.helleborine x E.atrorubens)
So can I see the hybrid from both dimensions
 I’ve already seen plenty of the others
 (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. 

I would be very niave to think that hybridization or the introgression was a one way ticket! and that the lead was always taken on by one particular species. Surely this is a two split thing and in some cases you will get the E. helleborine taking the lead before the atrorubens. I would be even more niave if I thought that hybrids were formed from a 50% equal measure between the two species, it has become clear and obvious that measures will only ever be at random with the lead counted to the species which held more of the individual characteristics representative to one of the species.


If I was asked to describe it I may call it Dark Brown stemmed, although I guess you could say also that it may be a dark green stemmed plant,  and it is very difficult to establish a true colour between the two (and that is probably the whole point), also it should be noted that you do see some lighter green bleeding through in some cases but that is occasional rather than regular. So perhaps better that my reference be made in the name of "Dark Stemmed" rather than a specific colour. Although the colour of the stem is probably the feature of the relevance in this case. If you put one up against the other you will see as follows (yet this could be partial only or full on like this):


(above) shows a photo of the early stem variance
to the left shows a general or regular Epipactis helleborine on 21st June 2021.
to the right shows SW4 a considered possibility of a hybrid plant on 19th June 2021.
You can see the striking difference already in the colour. Also note on the right hand photo you will see colour bleeding at the point were the leaf joins the stem. I will shortly introduce more photos which show a strong thickening of hairiness to the uppermost point were the inflorescence joins its bracts and the main stem, though as you descend the stem becomes more glabrous.



(above) shows a photo of the early stem variance
to the left shows a general or regular Epipactis helleborine on 21st June 2021.
to the right shows SW4 a considered possibility of a hybrid plant on 19th June 2021.
You can see the striking difference in colour. Also note on the right hand you will see bleeding at the point were the leaf joins the stem. I also think that if you look carefully at the one on the left there could also be a slight red staining.

 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.

I doubt that very much! the reason being if that was the case you would get all the specimens within a given area the same outcome, whereby you will get a dark one in the middle of the norm.

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.


Specimen 70c
4th August 2020

Note: Stem colour top dark brown bottom dark green.

The above photo is probably one of my best examples I can show you in regards to a possible hybridization in regards to variant colour from what could be the making up of a typical hybrid. (eg: duel coloured stem).  The dark usually associated with Epipactis atrorubens and the light feature usually associated with the Epipactis helleborine.

If you look through all the specimens above you will see this dual mixture of colouring appearing on most of the specimens I have found with some showing the mixed colour in a repetitive order within the same stem eg: dark, light and dark again. Sometimes the colours will mix completely and show different shades of dark brown through to dark green. 

Usually hairiness within the stem is associated more with atroruben than helleborine, with hairiness seen plentiful on the atroruben whilst the helleborine also shows hairs but little to no hair at all (Glabrous).  I usually refer to this minimal hairiness like you see in the above photo as having a look of "frost".



This is showing SW8 above
and gives a good example to the hairiness of the plant,
especially noted on the stem, ovaries and peduncels.

On this specimen (above) you see that the stem and the ovaries and pedicels are all very hairy and with the hairiness more pronounced within the darker parts of the ovary which appears to show a variagation of sorts. The greener divisions or stripes of the ovary appear to be far more glabrous. 

Also again you see variation within the stem colour alternating between a darkened brown and the lighter green. Normally I would expect the pedicels to be a light brown in the classic helleborine, whilst here they show far more darker intensity and perhaps bordering on a almost purple colour, again probably another factor of hybridization but this time from the atroruben. 

The first plant we have so far diagnosed to be a possible hybrid is called SW7 and its photos are shown below. 

Specimen SW7 (probable hybrid)


Specimen SW 7 (Hybrid) - August 2020

This shows the top of the inflorescence and just how hairy it is both on the stem, ovaries and penduncles. also you can see a strong dark colours to the stem and bracts etc. The darkness is also shown in the leaves.
Photo: early August 2020

Specimen SW 7 (Possible Hybrid)  - August 2020


This is a good photo showing side by side to a regular classic helleborine, which probably gives you a better idea of the actual colour differences

Specimen SW 7 (possible Hybrid)  - August 2020


Specimen SW 7 (Possible Hybrid)  - August 2020

This shows the inflorescence and you can see the changing colour within the stem from a dark brown to a dark green and the changing within the same stem.

Specimen SW 7 (Possible Hybrid)  - August 2020

A Close up of the flower which to me shows plenty of mixed callosity.

Specimen SW 7 (Possible Hybrid)  - August 2020

A macro shot of the flower (SW7) and the hairiness of both the ovary and stem. Also you get an idea of the strong crennulations to the edges of the epichile.

On 5th August 2021 I examined the cilia profile which clearly turned out to show a very mixed profile of both helleborine and atrorubens. 



(below) Specimen SW8

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.

Specimen SW8
Photo: early August 2020

This photo shows the hairiness of the stem, the ovary and the peduncles. I can only associate this high amount of
hairiness and deepened colour with possible atroruben features.

Specimen SW8
Photo: early August 2020

Again interesting to see the dark colouring showing on the ovary, peduncel and also on the unopened lateral sepals


Specimen SW8
Photo: early August 2020

Here you see more of the full plant, with the head and the bottom of the stem showing dark although the middle of the plant shows a lighter green stem.


Specimen SW8
Photo: early August 2020


Specimen 70c

Specimen 70c
4th August 2020



70c and although first discovered around 2016, this is the very first
photograph showing flowers - 3rd August 2020

70c and although first discovered around 2016, this is the very first
photograph showing flowers - 3rd August 2020

70c and although first discovered around 2016, this is the very first
photograph showing flowers - 3rd August 2020

70c and although first discovered around 2016, this is the very first
photograph showing flowers - 3rd August 2020
How interesting to see the stem in two tone

2021 - Specimen 70c never showed


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).


SW Helleborine Brown 1 and 2
Photo: 3rd August 2020

SW Helleborine Brown 1 and 2
Photo: 3rd August 2020

(Below) and now I will continue with my studies into 2021


(above) shows a photo of the early stem variance
to the left shows a general or regular Epipactis helleborine on 21st June 2021.
to the right shows SW4 a considered possibility of being a hybrid plant on 19th June 2021.
You can see the striking difference in colour. Also note on the right hand you will see bleeding at the point were the leaf joins the stem.


(above) shows a photo of the early stem variance
to the left shows a general or regular Epipactis helleborine on 21st June 2021.
to the right shows SW4 a considered possibility of being hybrid plant on 19th June 2021.
You can see the striking difference in colour. Also note on the right hand you will see bleeding at the point were the leaf joins the stem.