Helleborine Orchid


25 July 2021 finds me finishing my watercolour of Helleborine Orchid. It has been a patient and robust subject, as it came up in a handful of grass as Fred weeded the garden on 17 July and I've had it in water, waiting to be painted, then being painted - in increments... Fred labelled and pressed it today. It had finished opening all of its flowers.  

The first time I saw Helleborine was in a campground south of Tobermory on Ontario's Bruce Peninsula. I was amazed at all it's tiny fierce Lion-faces! I painted it - a very pale greenish individual, which was growing in the shade - and published it as the August page in my Wild Seasons Daybook. 

Here is some information we've found about this interesting plant:

Epipactis helleborine, the broad-leaved helleborine, is a terrestrial species of orchid with a broad distribution. It is a long lived herb which varies morphologically with ability to self-pollinate. ...widespread across much of Europe and Asia, from Portugal to China, as well as northern Africa. In North America, it is an introduced species and widely naturalized mostly in the Northeastern United States, eastern Canada and the Great Lakes Region, but also in scattered locations in other parts of the continent, including Michigan, Wisconsin, and the San Francisco Bay Area. In the US it is sometimes referred to as the "weed orchid" or "weedy orchid."

Found in woods and hedge-banks and often not far from paths near human activity. It is one of the most likely European orchids to be found within a city, with many sites for example in Glasgow, London and Moscow. Sometimes spotted beside car parks. ... known for its successful colonization of human-made or anthropogenic habitats such as parks, gardens or roadsides. These roadside orchids exhibit special features such as large plant size and greater ability to produce flowers - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5398293/ - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epipactis_helleborine

There is also information about how difficult it is to eradicate - but we wonder why one would want to...

Jean Gregson wrote in Field Botanists of Ontario: 

"My experience is that it pops up in odd places all around our yard (west island Montreal) although not in great numbers. The individual plants last only one or two seasons so there's never more than three or four around in any one season. I'm inclined to agree the 'invasive' label refers to the fact that it is non-native, rather than an aggressive spreader."

This original 5 x 6 inch watercolour is available to purchase. 
For more information, or to purchase a print, please contact Aleta 


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