Helleborus orientalis   Lenten Rose C DDD I

Helleborus orientalis whole Helleborus orientalis close

I was using directions to this plant from a friend which are invariably correct but not having brought the relevant OS map I tried to memorise the shape of the land from a borrowed map the night before. Our first wrong turning led us to a farm where a the lady assured us that the plant did grow in those woods (waving vaguely towards a huge area). Trying again, this time with a GPS we couldn't get to the co-ordinates specified although we were sure we were close. The batteries gave out, and with no map, no GPS and no luck I was ready to give up. My fellow plant hunter didn't want to, so we tried three villages before we could buy both a map and batteries and then we set out again.

It quickly became obvious that we'd been looking in the wrong place and as we approached the site the GPS confirmed that we were almost standing on the plants. Except, that is, for the barbed wire fence between us and them that is. There was one access point via an unlabelled stile and we went in. Through the bushes, over a broken wall and there on the side of the hill were both the beautiful Lenten Rose and the Lesser Periwinkle in flower. A little way to one side exactly as the description had said, were the leaves of a Cyclamen. Yet another find which I must attribute to someone else because I misread maps and give up too easily.

H. orientalis has naturalised itself in only a few places in the south of England and south Wales. It is known from southern Scotland and a few places in the north of England but only from one site in Ireland.

Wood near Edge in Gloucestershire February 16th 2005

Added on February 17th 2005, updated 6th February 2009, updated 6th April 2010

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