Epipactis veratrifolia Boiss. & Hohen., 1854
(On the 13th of March 13, it was a little early to see the flowers…)
Common names: Eastern Marsh Helleborine, Scarce Helleborine [En], Épipactis à feuilles de verâtre [Fr], Wespenorchis [Nl], Germerblättrige Stendelwurz [De], Doğu Bataklık Orkidesi [Tu]
IUCN Status: LC (Least Concern)
Episkopi (Επισκοπή, Piskobu, Piskopi), LIMASSOL (Λεμεσός, Leymosun) ● Cyprus
Description: Plants robust, up to 120 cm tall, densely leafy.
The leaves are ovate-lanceolate to lanceolate, acute or acuminate, up to 20 cm long, papery. The inflorescence is 10-60 cm long, the rachis is whitish pubescent; the lower bracts leaf-like, the uppermost ± as long as ovary. The flowers are pale greenish, ± tinged or veined with brownish-red. The sepals are spreading, up to 21 mm long, ovate-lanceolate; the petals are slightly shorter. The hypochile of labellum is near base with 2 small, erect, triangular side-lobes, inside with 2 reddish-brown ridges; the epichile is ovate-lanceolate, 9-11 mm long, reddish-brown with white tip. The column is 10 mm long, with dark green, very shortly stalked anther.
Biology: It flowers from January to August. In Cyprus, it flowers from March on low altitude at Episkopi and in June-August in the Troodos mountains at 1500 m.
Epipactis veratrifolia is a model system of aphid mimicry as aphidophagous hoverflies lay eggs on false brood sites on their flowers. Flowers mimicked both alarm pheromones and aphid coloring of to attract female hoverflies as their exclusive pollinators. Adult female hoverflies were partly rewarded for oviposition. The biological interaction of aphid (prey), orchid (primary producer) and hoverfly (predator) may represent an intermediate stage between mutualism and deception in the evolution of pollination-by-deceit.
Habitat: Around seepages and springs on rocky cliffs and marshy depressions in the mountains. It prefers wet sites often on calcareous substrates. This species grows in full sunlight. From 200 to 2,500 m asl.
Distribution: From Cyprus to Asia (Russia, China, India), the Middle East and parts of Africa.
Flora of Pakistan
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, 2013.
Jin X.-H. et al., 2014. The evolution of floral deception in Epipactis veratrifolia (Orchidaceae): from indirect defense to pollination, BMC Plant Biology.