Jul 20 2014
Dick Nugent pointed out — and I’ve noticed too — that this is a particularly good year for Helleborine orchids in western Pennsylvania.
This year we have a Helleborine Orchid blooming in our yard. It magically appeared in one of our flower beds. Helleborine is one of the most common orchids in PA. It is an alien species and may be slightly invasive (I have trouble thinking of an orchid as being invasive)[*]. I have been finding them all over western PA in a wide variety of habitats. They are blooming right now and frequently grow on the shoulder of roads and trails. Like many orchids, I suspect that this one has tiny seeds which are spread by the wind. It is a small flower with many flowers on one stalk. Through a magnifying glass the flower is really pretty.
Dianne Machesney photographed these at McConnell’s Mill State Park. Here’s a close-up of the flower.
The common name got me wondering… Is “Helleborine” a reference to the Greeks as in “Hellenic?” No. The name means “like Hellebore,” a European genus in the buttercup family. The word began as “ellebore” and acquired a leading H. Though it doesn’t refer to the Greeks, both Hellebore and Helleborine are foreign plants to North America.
I’m always thrilled to see an orchid, even if it’s an alien.
(photo by Dianne Machesney)
[*] p.s. The species at this link Epipactis helleborine is invasive.