Species and habitat description

The red helleborine (Cephalanthera rubra) is our rare forest orchid. It occurs mostly in beech and oak forests. The height of this orchid-species is usually 30-50 cm and there are 3-10 reddish-purple flowers in its loose cluster flower. It is very important the presence of the deadwood in the habitat of this orchid species, as well as the species-rich habitat with bellflowers, too. The flowers of the red helleborine are similar to the flowers of the bellflower species. Bees who pollinate bellflowers are mistakenly visiting flowers of red helleborine which do not produce nectar, and pollinate them, too. The bees make their nests in decaying deciduous trees, so if the dead wood is removed from the forest, the bees are deprived of their habitat and the orchids are deprived from their pollinators.

Major threats

Major threats are the intensive forestry, the removing deadwood and the impact of herbivorous animals.

Specific conservation action

In its habitats, it is necessary to maintain the permanent forest cover and to control the impact of big herbivorous animals. To create deadwood and to build fences are the most important action to help red helleborine population. Reduction of game population would be important.

Related project areas

1. FARKAS S. (szerk) (1999): Magyarország védett növényei. Mezőgazda kiadó, Budapest, pp. 416.
2. MOLNÁR V. ATTILA (szerk) Magyarország orchideáinak atlasza. Kossuth kiadó, Budapest, pp. 504.