Dark-red helleborine Epipactis atrorubens

Status Green - Least concern
Best Time to See June, July, August
Colour Purple, Red
Habitat Woodland, Grassland

This rare and beautiful wild orchid forms a splash of deep-red colour on bare limestone rocks in just a very few parts of Scotland.

It is hardy, with a short root-stalk and often multiple, fleshy roots. The flower has dense hair on the tops and blossoms emit a strong vanilla scent particularly in warm weather. They sometimes vary in colour but generally a deep reddish-brown and often pollinated by bees and other insects. Light, dust-like seeds are contained in the fruit capsule and are spread by the wind.


Sporadic sites in Scotland


Limestone rocks. It favours warm and dry locations, with soil neutral to basic in pH, nutrient-poor, and permeable. It grows in scree, loose or sandy soils above a limestone substrate, including dunes, open forest or lawns. It is also a pioneer species, which settles in road embankments, fallow areas, and waste dumps, in the early to middle stages of ecological succession, among communities of grass, light birch stands and bush.

Best time to see

Flowers June to August.

Did you know?

County flower of Banffshire.