Oxfordshire Flora Group


Epipactis leptochila, Narrow-leaved Helleborine

Photo by Terry Swainbank

Narrow-lipped Helleborine Epipactis leptochila is a nationally scarce plant, and whilst it does occur in Oxfordshire it is described as rare. In Oxfordshire a typical habitat is heavy shade under beech on thin calcareous soils, with virtually no other plant competition. Violet Helleborine E. purpurata shares the same territory whilst Broad-leaved Helleborine E. helleborine can also be found nearby, where there is a little more light. There might even be hybrids between the two.

BBOWT’s Warburg Reserve holds the largest population of E. leptochila in the county. Unfortunately, the numbers of plants there appear to be declining, such that only 14 plants were found in July 2019, compared to over 100 each year in the early 1990s. Currently all the plants are confined to an area of beechwood measuring roughly 120m by 120m, and, though there may be an outlier, the identity of plants there needs to be confirmed.