Orchids Wiki

Epipactis atrorubens plate
Epipactis atrorubens from
Album des Orchidées d'Europe

Scientific Classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Liliopsida
Order: Asparagales
Subfamily: Epidendroideae
Tribe: Neottieae
SubTribe: Limodorinae
Genus: Epipactis
Zinn 1757
Type Species
Epipactis helleborine

Epipactis Zinn, 1757, or Helleborine is a genus of terrestrial orchids comprised of approximately 70 species.


They occur in temperate and subtropical climates of America, Asia, and Europe. These orchids grow in open spaces in forests, in undergrowth, on calcareous soils and are often found in wet dune-slacks near the sea. The only original American species is Giant Helleborine (Epipactis gigantea). One species from Europe, Broad-leaved Helleborine (Epipactis helleborine), is invasive in North America. Most species are protected.


Most of these hardy orchids grow in a wet environment. The Marsh helleborine (Epipactis palustris) is the only European orchid able to survive in a flooded habitat. Epipactis gigantea is a species found in the American west, and into southern Canada, in wet areas and even streams. It can grow to a height of 1 m. But Epipactis helleborine grows in more diverse habitats, from sheltered sandy beaches to open spaces in deciduous or coniferous forests, to moist soils. And there are other exceptions.

They all strongly depend on their symbiosis with their hyphal threads. Some species therefore have reduced leaves and need little chlorophyll. Violet Helleborine (Epipactis viridiflora) can even do without chlorophyll. These forms can be recognized by their purple instead of violet flowers.

Their creeping, fleshy rhizomes grow offshoots, from which then emerge the 20-70 cm long stems during the next spring. There are four to eight alternate, lanceolate leaves, that grow progressively shorter near the top. The margins are entire, the top is acute. Species with less chlorophyll have blue-purple leaves.

Their bilaterally symmetrical colorful flowers grow from a terminal raceme. The three sepals and the two lateral petals are ovate and acuminate. Their color can vary from greenish-white to violet and purple. The lip is divided in a bowl-shaped hypochile, with the outer surface greenish-white and threaded with dark veins. The wavy, snowwhite epichile is fan-shaped. The ovary is inferior. It produces a dry capsule with countless minute seeds.


Plants should be grown in cool conditions. Keep in a well drain mix with a pH of 5.5 - 7.0. Species should be watered regularly. Most species can be grown in full sun.



  1. Arthrochilium Beck 1890
  2. Epipactum Ritgen 1831; Helleborine Hill Britt. 1794


  • Epipactis africana (Ethiopia to Malawi).
  • Epipactis albensis (C. Europe).
    • Epipactis albensis var. albensis (EC. Europe). Rhizome geophyte
    • Epipactis albensis var. fibri (France). Hemicryptophye or rhizome geophyte
  • Epipactis atromarginata (Vietnam).
  • Epipactis atrorubens (Hoffm.) Besser : Dark Red Helleborine, Royal Helleborine (Europe to Caucasus).
    • Epipactis atrorubens var. atrorubens
    • Epipactis atrorubens var. atrata A.Waldner & Webernd (2005)(Austria).
    • Epipactis atrorubens subsp. danubialis (Robatsch & Rydlo) Ciocârlan & R.Rösler
    • Epipactis atrorubens subsp. spiridonovii (Devillers-Tersch. & Devillers) Kreutz
    • Epipactis atrorubens subsp. subclausa (Robatsch) Kreutz
    • Epipactis atrorubens var. triploidea (Gelbr. & G.Hamel) Kreutz
  • Epipactis autumnalis D. Doro (Italy)
  • Epipactis baumanniorum Ströhle
  • Epipactis bugacensis (Hungary).
  • Epipactis campeadorii (Spain).
  • Epipactis cardina (Spain).
  • Epipactis condensata (Turkey to Lebanon, Cyprus, W. Transcaucasus).
  • Epipactis cretica (Crete).
  • Epipactis distans Arvet-Touvet (Central Europe)
  • Epipactis dunensis (Great Britain (N. England to N. Wales).
  • Epipactis fageticola (C.E.Hermos.) Devillers-Tersch. & Devillers, 1999.
  • Epipactis flava (Laos, Thailand).
  • Epipactis gigantea : Stream Orchid, Chatterbox, Giant Helleborine (W. Canada to N. Mexico).
  • Epipactis greuteri H.Baumann & Künkele (Greece).
    • Epipactis greuteri var. flaminia (P.R.Savelli & Aless.) Kreutz
    • Epipactis greuteri var. preinensis (Seiser) P.Delforge
    • Epipactis greuteri subsp. preinensis (Austria)
  • Epipactis guegelii (Romania).
  • Epipactis halacsyi Robatsch (Greece) - now basionym of Epipactis viridiflora subsp. halacsyi
    • Epipactis halacsyi subsp. degenii (Szentp. & Mónus) Kreutz
  • Epipactis helleborine (L.) Crantz : Broad-leaved Helleborine (N. Africa, Europe to C. China).
    • Epipactis helleborine subsp. bithynica (Robatsch) Kreutz
    • Epipactis helleborine subsp. helleborine (N. Africa, Europe to C. China).
    • Epipactis helleborine subsp. latina (Italy to NW. Balkan Pen).
    • Epipactis helleborine subsp. leutei (Robatsch) Kreutz
    • Epipactis helleborine var. minor R.Engel (France)
    • Epipactis helleborine subsp. molochina (P.Delforge) Kreutz
    • Epipactis helleborine subsp. neerlandica (W. Europe).
    • Epipactis helleborine subsp. schubertiorum (Bartolo, Pulv. & Robatsch) Kreutz
    • Epipactis helleborine subsp. transcaucasica (Caucasus). Hemicryptophye or rhizome geophyte
    • Epipactis helleborine subsp. tremolsii (W. Medit.) Hemicryptophye or rhizome geophyte
    • Epipactis helleborine var. youngiana (A.J.Richards & A.F.Porter) Kreutz
  • Epipactis heraclea P.Delforge & Kreutz, 2003.
  • Epipactis humilior (Tang & F.T.Wang) S.C.Chen & G.H.Zhu, 2003.
  • Epipactis ioessa Bongiorni, De Vivo, Fori & Romolini (Italy)
  • Epipactis kleinii (S. France to E. Spain)
  • Epipactis komoricensis (EC. Europe) - now synonym of Epipactis leptochila subsp. komoricensis (Mered'a) Kreutz
  • Epipactis lapidocampi E.Klein & Laminger (Austria)
  • Epipactis latifolia All. nom. illeg. (synonym of Epipactis helleborine)
    • Epipactis latifolia]] lus. rosea Erdner - now synonym of Epipactis viridiflora var. rosea (Erdner) Kreutz
  • Epipactis leptochila (Godfery) Godfery : Narrow-lipped Helleborine (Europe).
    • Epipactis leptochila subsp. aspromontana (Bartolo, Pulv. & Robatsch) Kreutz
    • Epipactis leptochila var. cleistogama (C.Thomas) Kreutz
    • Epipactis leptochila var. dinarica (S.Hertel & Riech.) P.Delforge
    • Epipactis leptochila var. futakii (Mered'a & Potek) P.Delforge
    • Epipactis leptochila subsp. komoricensis (Mered'a) Kreutz
    • Epipactis leptochila subsp. leptochila (Europe).
    • Epipactis leptochila subsp. maestrazgona (P.Delforge & Gévaudan) Kreutz
    • Epipactis leptochila subsp. naousaensis (Robatsch) Kreutz
    • Epipactis leptochila subsp. neglecta (WC. Europe). Hemicryptophyte or rhizome geophyte
    • Epipactis leptochila var. peitzii (H.Neumann & Wucherpf.) P.Delforge
    • Epipactis leptochila subsp. sancta (P.Delforge) Kreutz
  • Epipactis liestalensis (C. Europe).
  • Epipactis maestrazgona P.Delforge & Gévaudan (Spain)
  • Epipactis magnibracteata (NC. China).
  • Epipactis mairei (Nepal to C. China)
  • Epipactis meridionalis H.Baumann & R.Lorenz (Sicilia to S. Italy).
  • Epipactis microphylla (Europe to Iran).
  • Epipactis molochina P.Delforge (Spain)
  • Epipactis muelleri (W. & C. Europe).
    • Epipactis muelleri subsp. cerritae (Sicilia).. Hemicryptophye or rhizome geophyte
    • Epipactis muelleri subsp. muelleri (W. & C. Europe) Rhizome geophyte
  • Epipactis nauosaensis (Greece) - now a synonym of Epipactis leptochila subsp. naousaensis (Robatsch) Kreutz
  • Epipactis nordeniorum Robatsch (Austria)
    • Epipactis nordeniorum subsp. mecsekensis (A.Molnár & Robatsch) Kreutz
    • Epipactis nordeniorum subsp. moravica (Batousek) Kreutz
  • Epipactis ohwii (C. Taiwan).
  • Epipactis olympica (Greece).
  • Epipactis palustris : Marsh Helleborine, Marsh Orchid (Europe to Caucasus and Mongolia)
  • Epipactis papillosa (Russian Far East to Korea, Japan)
  • Epipactis persica (Soó) Nannf. (SE. Europe to W. Pakistan)
    • Epipactis persica subsp. exilis (P.Delforge) Kreutz
  • Epipactis phyllanthes G.E.Sm.  : Green-flowered Helleborine (W. & NW. Europe).
    • Epipactis phyllanthes subsp. fageticola (C.E.Hermos.) Kreutz
    • Epipactis phyllanthes var. olarionensis (France). Hemicryptophye or rhizome geophyte
    • Epipactis phyllanthes var. phyllanthes (W. & NW. Europe)
  • Epipactis placentina (Switzerland to Italy).
  • Epipactis pollinensis (Italy) - now synonym of Epipactis viridiflora var. pollinensis (B.Baumann & H.Baumann) Kreutz
  • Epipactis pontica (EC. Europe to N. Turkey).
  • Epipactis provincialis (France) .
  • Epipactis pseudopurpurata (Slovakia) - Epipactis viridiflora subsp. pseudopurpurata (Mered'a) Kreutz
  • Epipactis rechingeri (N. Iran.
  • Epipactis rhodanensis (France to Austria).
  • Epipactis robatschiana Bartolo, D'Emerico, Pulv., Terrasi & Stuto (Italy)
  • Epipactis royleana (E. Afghanistan to Himalaya).
  • Epipactis sancta: Lindisfarne helleborine
  • Epipactis savelliana Bongiorni, De Vivo & Fori, J. Eur. Orch. 39: 156 (2007).
  • Epipactis schubertiorum (Italy) - now synonym of Epipactis helleborine subsp. schubertiorum (Bartolo, Pulv. & Robatsch) Kreutz
  • Epipactis spiridonovii (Bulgaria) - now synonym of Epipactis atrorubens subsp. spiridonovii (Devillers-Tersch. & Devillers) Kreutz
  • Epipactis stellifera (Switzerland).
  • Epipactis tallosii (Slovakia, Hungary).
  • Epipactis tenii (China).
  • Epipactis thessala (N. & C. Greece).
  • Epipactis thunbergii (S. Russian Far East to Korea, Japan to Nansei-shoto).
  • Epipactis tremolsii Pau
    • Epipactis tremolsii subsp. densifolia (W.Hahn, Passin & R.Wegener) Kreutz
    • Epipactis tremolsii var. duriensis (Bernardos, D.Tyteca, Revuelta & Amich) P.Delforge
    • Epipactis tremolsii subsp. heraclea (P.Delforge & Kreutz) Kreutz
    • Epipactis tremolsii subsp. lusitanica (D.Tyteca) Kreutz
    • Epipactis tremolsii subsp. turcica (Kreutz) Kreutz
  • Epipactis troodi (Cyprus, Turkey ).
  • Epipactis turcomanica (C. Asia).
  • Epipactis ulugurica (Tanzania) .
  • Epipactis veratrifolia : Scarce Marsh Helleborine (Caucasus to Somalia and SC. China).
  • Epipactis viridiflora (Hoffm.) Krock: Clustered Helleborine, Violet Helleborine (Europe).
    • Epipactis viridiflora subsp. halacsyi (Robatsch) B.Baumann & H.Baumann (2005) (Greece)
    • Epipactis viridiflora subsp. pollinensis (B.Baumann & H.Baumann) B.Baumann & H.Baumann (2005) (Italy)
    • Epipactis viridiflora subsp. pseudopurpurata (Mered'a) Kreutz
    • Epipactis viridiflora var. rosea (Erdner) Kreutz
  • Epipactis xanthophaea (China).

Natural Hybrids[]

  • Epipactis × amigoi (E. helleborine × E. kleinii) (Europe).
  • Epipactis × barlae (E. helleborine × E. microphylla) (C. Europe).
  • Epipactis × barreana (E. latina × E. muelleri) (Italy).
  • Epipactis × breinerorum (E. helleborine subsp. helleborine × E. greuteri) (EC. Europe).
  • Epipactis × bruxellensis (E. helleborine × E. phyllanthes) (W. Europe).
  • Epipactis × capellonensis (E. atrorubens × E. latina) (Italy).
  • Epipactis × cardonneae (E. atrorubens × E. kleinii) (W. Europe).
  • Epipactis × conquensis (E. cardina × E. kleinii) (Spain).
  • Epipactis × gerbaudiorum (E. provincialis × E. tremolsii) (France)
  • Epipactis × gevaudanii (E. helleborine × E. rhodanensis) (France).
  • Epipactis × graberi (E. atrorubens × E. microphylla) (Europe).
  • Epipactis × heterogama (E. atrorubens × E. muelleri) (Europe).
  • Epipactis x nicolosii M.P.Grasso & Grillo (. (E. helleborine (L.) Crantz x E. meridionalis H.Baumann & R.Lorenz) (Sicilia)
  • Epipactis × populetorum ( E. helleborine × E. hispanica) (Spain).
  • Epipactis × pupplingensis ( E. atrorubens × E. palustris) (Europe).
  • Epipactis × reinekei (E. helleborine × E. muelleri) (Europe).
  • Epipactis x robatschii Gévaudan & P.Delforge (E. bugacensis Robatsch x E. atrorubens (Hoffm.) Besser subvar. borbasii )
  • Epipactis × schmalhausenii (E. atrorubens × E. helleborine) (Europe).
    • Epipactis × schmalhausenii nothosubsp. fleischmannii (E. atrorubens × E. helleborine subsp. orbicularis) (Europe). Hemicryptophye or rhizome geophyte
    • Epipactis × schmalhausenii nothosubsp. schmalhausenii (Europe). Rhizome geophyte
  • Epipactis × schulzei (Europe).
  • Epipactis × soguksuensis(E. helleborine × E. turcica) (Turkey).
  • Epipactis × stephensonii (E. helleborine × E. leptochila) (Europe).
  • Epipactis × trikalana (E. helleborine × E. thessala) (Greece).
  • Epipactis × vermionensis (E. gracilis × E. helleborine) (Greece).


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