Cephalanthera longifolia

Sword-leaved helleborine; Céphalanthère à longues feuilles; Langblättriges Waldvögelein; Elleborine bianca

Widespread across Europe, from Ireland eastwards, and North Africa. Over the past 150 years or so, it has greatly declined in Ireland and Great Britain

A white-flowered orchid with long narrow lance-shaped leaves; growing up to about 60 cm. Rather similar to Cephalanthera damasonium with which hybrids have been reported, but with floral bracts that are shorter than the ovary (longer in C. damasonium) and the outer perianth segments are acute (obtuse in C. damasonium). The flowers are white and open wider than those of C. damasonium.

In open woodlands or scrub, on calcareous soils, at altitudes up to 2000 metres.

Upper photograph: Slovenia 2002.
© Alan Hill

Lower photograph: Co Galway, western Ireland 2006.
© Jackie O'Connell

Click photographs for larger images.

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© National Museums and Galleries of Northern Ireland, 2004