Broad-leaved helleborine

Epipactis helleborine

Broad-leaved helleborine, photo: Arne Ader

Belongs in the Orchidaceae family. Broad-leaved helleborines are perennial herbaceous plants. They grow up to 20–100 cm in height. The stem is hollow. There are oval leaves (4–10 cm in length) at the lower part of the stem. They have an underground rhizome, in which the plant spends the winter. The appearance of the plant may vary greatly and several subspecies are identified on the basis of it. The flowers are pink to green, and they have a similar structure to that of orchids. Wasps most often pollinate the plant. The fruit is a capsule, which opens in August or September and releases tiny seeds, which can fly very far with the wind. The plant can be found in wooden meadows and mixed forests. They prefer fringes of woodlands and grasslands in well-lit or half-hidden places, in soils than contain a lot of lime. However, they can also grow in soils without lime. Broad-leaved helleborines are protected in Estonia (protection category III).