John and Gerry's    Orchids of Britain and Europe
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Epipactis phyllanthes v vectensis


E. phyllantheswas first described by G. E. Smith from Sussex, England in 1852 and since that time several   variations have been formally recognized. These varieties are however the subject of a current and ongoing Europe wide debate as to their true status.

The situation in England is becoming clearer and it looks likely that there will soon be a reduction, possibly a radical one, in the number of varieties recognized. At the time of writing however there has been no firm guidance and we will continue with the current understanding of the position which is that there are four British varieties namely E. phyllanthes v pendula, E. phyllanthes v cambrensis, E. phyllanthes v degenera   and the variety described here, E. phyllanthes v vectensis.

This variety was first described by T and T. A Stephenson from the Isle of Wight in 1952, being then suggested as a full species with the title E. vectensis. As with E. pendula, subsequent research concluded that it should more correctly be regarded as a variety.  Following this its fortunes declined still further and as long ago as 1962, D. P. Young noted that "there is no material dividing line, either geographical or   morphological,  between var. pendula and var. vectensis and the names are retained only for the convenience   of description". The distribution of var. vectensis was at first thought to be only Southern England but it is now known from several other areas and not least the dunes of South Wales where in one system it can be found  growing in close proximity  to both var. vectensis and var. cambrensis.  It is still true to say however that var.vectensis is commoner in the south. Its most significant distinguishing features are its small overall size, flowers which seldom fully open and a lanceolate epichile which does not recurve. Intermediates between this and var. pendula are relatively common.