Epipactus helleborine - Michigan City, IN.JPG

Family:     Orchidaceae (orchid family)

Duration:  Perennial

Height:     25 - 90 cm (10 - 35 in)

Blooming: June - Aug.


Helleborine Orchid

Epipactis helleborine (L.) Crantz

Flowers: there are 15-50 flowers along the raceme (stem with the flowers on it).  They are pale green to shades of pink and purplish.

Leaves: 4-6 leaves alternating and clasping up the stem.  Sometimes roughly hairy with no teeth on the edges.  The leaves can grow as large as 18 cm (7 in) in length.

Fruit: 0.9-1.4 cm (0.4 - 0.5 in) long, hairy to kind of hairy capsules with parts of the dried out flower still sticking out.

Sun: Part shade to shade

Epipactis helleborine - Cowles Bog N. Trail.jpg

Comments: It has been suggested that some of the chemicals produced by the helleborine orchid may produce hallucinogenic or narcotic substances thus addicting pollinators.  There has been observed behavior of pollinators becoming disoriented and sluggish after visiting the orchid.  IT has been further hypothesized that the reason for this is because the orchid is not morphologically attractive to insects and needs the pollinator to hang out a little longer to make sure the pollen sticks.

Etymology: The species name, helleborine, means "like a hellebore" in Greek.  This refers to its appearance similar to the common genus known as Hellebore.  The genus, Epipactis, is from ancient Greek credited as a plant that curdles milk.

Chapman, W.K. 1996. Orchids of the Northeast: a field guide. Syracuse University Press, Syracuse, New York. pp. 200.

Jakubska, A., D. Przado, M. Steininger, J. Aniol-Kwiatkowska, and M. Kadej. 2005. Why do pollinators become" sluggish"? nectar chemical constituents from Epipactis helleborine(L.) Crantz(orchidaceae). Applied Ecology and Environmental Research, 3(2): 29-38.

all photos by Nathanael Pilla

Epipactus helleborine top view
Epipactus helleborine
Epipactus helleborine leaves
Epipactis helleborine
Epipactus helleborine
Species Present and Exotic