Orchid of the Year - Sword-leaved Helleborine

Cephalanthera longifolia

The sword-leaved helleborine is easy to recognize – it has the largest white flowers among the orchids of Estonia. It could only be mixed up with the extremely rare white-flowered form of the red helleborine but the flower lip of the latter is pointed, unlike that of the sword-leaved helleborine.
The sword-leaved helleborine attracts the attention of pollinators with the help of a yellow spot on the round lip of its flower. But the plant is a con artist! It has no nectar to offer in return for pollination.

The protected sword-leaved helleborine is very sensitive to being picked. The plant may stunt even when its rhizome is left in the soil. It takes decades for the plant to recover and give rise to a larger population.

The species is distributed mainly on the islands of West Estonia and on the west coast of the mainland. In 2022, however, a new easternmost locality was discovered in Tallinn! We can only guess how many sword-leaved helleborines are yet to be found in between!

Valge tolmpea