Narrow-leaved helleborine Cephalanthera longifolia

Status Amber - Vulnerable and Near-Threatened
Best Time to See
Habitat Woodland

An pretty orchid with long narrow leaves and oval white flowers with orange or yellow lips.

Narrow-leaved helleborine is a long-lived perennial but also one of our most threatened orchids. It is sometimes called sword-leaved helleborine on account of its blade-like leaves.

You can adopt narrow-leaved helleborine for yourself or a loved one - maybe for Mother's Day? Visit our ‘Adopt-a-flower’ page (click here) for more.


It has declined a great deal in the last 30 years. Populations can now be found in scattered locations, particularly in north Wales, west Scotland and Hampshire, but almost half of these have only two or three plants and are whose survival is threatened.


Narrow-leaved helleborine is a flower of open woodland: glades, margins, rides and steep rocky slopes where it can find permanent patches of light. It prefers calcareous soil found in chalk or limestone environments.


Classified as Vulnerable and is therefore considered to be facing a high risk of extinction in the wild.


The neglect of woods leading to the disappearance of glades, the thickening of tree cover and the advent of coarse, smothering vegetation has hit the narrow-leaved helleborine quite badly. Inappropriate woodland management can also be damaging, as plants can dry up as a result of too much light. Plantlife's Welsh woodland report (click here for a copy) suggests measures that could help revive its fortunes and those of many species besides.