Definition of helleborine in US English:



  • A mainly woodland orchid occurring chiefly in north temperate regions.

    Two genera in the family Orchidaceae: Epipactis (with greenish or reddish flowers that are sometimes self-fertilized) and Cephalanthera (with larger white or pink flowers)

    • ‘And at the weekend he and a group of seven volunteers carefully dug up 73 rare broad-leaved helleborines and took them by wheelbarrow to their new home where they were replanted.’
    • ‘This is the first of our helleborines to flower, usually in mid May when it can be found in old beech woods.’
    • ‘Like many orchids, the red helleborine is capable of growing and flowering in quite deep shade and, if conditions become too adverse, it is able to lead a subterranean existence for many years until conditions become more favourable.’
    • ‘The ponds are home to Smooth and Common newts, with a variety of interesting flora covering the reserve, including broad-leaved helleborines.’
    • ‘When I gardened in northern Maine, helleborine came up in the flower beds too.’
    • ‘The first two pictures are marsh helleborines and the last one is a green flowered helleborine which had been discovered the day before our visit.’
    • ‘This site is particularly important for red helleborines, one of four helleborines recorded here, and for rare snails.’
    • ‘We met the volunteer reserve manager, Richard Headley, who immediately pointed out a group of sword leaved helleborines for which the copse is most famous.’
    • ‘With helleborines often living in colonies and with a single plant having the ability to produce more than one stem, it is obviously impossible to count the number of individuals by the method described.’
    • ‘There has been a small colony of white helleborines growing at the top of the science car park for at least two years now.’
    • ‘A search for last year's helleborines almost drew a blank, until the discovery of just three withered stems that had been completely savaged by slugs.’
    • ‘The spectacular red helleborine orchid is distributed from Iran throughout the Mediterranean region and up to western Europe, reaching southern Scandinavia.’
    • ‘The helleborines are growing in the sun and in the shade, under trees and out in the open.’
    • ‘Several kinds of orchid grow here, with helleborines under the shade of trees.’
    • ‘We then went to the helleborine site, which is in the verge of a farm lane which runs along a narrow strip of woodland - I had always thought the wood rather unexciting and probably not of ‘ancient’ origin, and was absolutely astonished to find these helleborines.’


Late 16th century: French or Latin, from Greek helleborinē, a plant like hellebore, from helleboros ‘hellebore’.