Thursday, August 4, 2011

Look For It Now: Epipactis Hellborine

I've never been a fan of orchids. They're too pretty, too perfect and just too exotic. Give me some hardy goldenrod and some frost-resistant aster any day over a dainty, fine-petaled orchid.

But I'm starting to warm up to the Orchidaceae family since
recently discovering epipactis hellborine -- an orchid now blooming in abundance in certain spots in Vermont. I came upon this non-native hiking in the Coolidge State Forest, where it was found at the edge of the woods both beside a dirt path and a paved road.

Epipactis hellborine, or broad-leafed hellborine, has a cluster of drooping flower heads that range in color from a greenish-white to a light purple-pink. Each flower head is tiny -- only about 1/2-inch across -- with the flower stalk growing 1-3 feet.

Apparently, this orchid, which was introduced from Europe, has invasive tendenc
ies and can beat out native flowers for space. So, much like purple loosestrife -- also blooming in Vermont now -- its beauty is bittersweet (and all the more reason to treasure goldenrod and aster).


  1. A sweet little orchid for sure. It's too bad it's not from around here. I have seen this orchid growing in the woods from Maine to Oregon. I do hope it doesn't become a problem as it does make a nice addition to the landscape. Cheers!

  2. Thanks, Tree. I found some more orchids (false hellebore and northern bog orchid) recently, and I guess they are "okay." I also found sundew -- a total score!