AN extremely rare orchid has been spotted on the side of an Oxford road by a local botanist.

The white helleborine (Cephalanthera damasonium) was seen growing wild on ‘plot 1’ of Oxford Business Park by Dr Christopher Dixon, who is also an author and wrote ‘A Guide to Britain’s Rarest Plants’ in 2017.

Oxford Mail:

Dr Dixon explained: “This rare, native orchid is a UK Biodiversity Action Plan species, is listed on the UK Red Data List as a vulnerable species, and has never been seen within the city of Oxford before.

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“The northern part of Oxford Business Park also contains hundreds of pyramidal orchids and dozens of bee orchids, so this new discovery makes this small area one of the best sites in the city for orchids, and by far the best site without any statutory protection.”

However, one reader, Christopher Hoskin, commented: "I suspect Dr Dixon is correct that this is the first time it has been formally recorded in Oxford, but it's not the first time it has been seen." 

He listed a number of ocassions upon which he has seen the plant (see the full comment below) and added: "White Helleborine is on the Oxfordshire Rare Plants Register. 

"Anyone with an interesting sighting can submit it to the Thames Valley Environmental Records Centre (TVERC). I didn't do this with my old records, which is why there are no formal records for White Helleborine in Oxford until now."