What is the plant
C. longifolia is an erect terrestrial orchid with narrowly lance-shaped, dark green leaves and spike-like racemes of bell-shaped, white flowers in late spring and early summer. The Sword-leaved Helleborine grows to about 40 cm in height and is distinguished from Cephalanthera damasonium by the shape of its leaves, which are long and narrow. Both the Latin namelongifolia which means long-leaved and the English common name 'sword-leaved' refer to the distinctive shape of the leaves.The flowers are white, and there is a distinctive yellow patch on their lips.Although generally associated (in the UK, that is) with the chalk-rich habitats of southern England, the Sword-leaved Helleborine also occurs in western Scotland, in a few sites in Ireland and on the western fringes of Mid and North Wales. This species is in steep decline both in the UK and throughout mainland Europe, where it is widespread but nowhere very common.
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