Red helleborine

Cephalanthera rubra

The red helleborine (Cephalanthera rubra) is one orchid growing into forests, mainly oak woods. It achieves a half meter height. There is a rhizome beneath. Leaves are arranged distich on the stem. The red helleborine blossoms at the end of spring or beginning of summer. Few, distant, from 3 to 10 flowers appears on a hairy, sometimes sinusoidal axis. Flowers are red or purple coloured, with a white spot on the middle of the labelum. Every flower has its bracteole looking like a narrow, acute leaf. Except the labelum, sepals and petals are both purple coloured, long and acute. The sepal on top and the 2 lateral petals totally opens at the peak of blossom. This is not the case of the two additional Cephalantera species that are also found in Catalonia, the sword-leaved helleborine (C.longifolia), with higher number of snow white flowers, and the white helleborine (C.damasonium), with always almost closed, ivory coloured flowers.

In the district of Bages, the red helleborine is found in every type of forests. It is the most common amongst Cephalanthera species.

[photos Marta Queralt López Salvans (1st and 2nd) and Jordi Badia (3rd)]