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 tendencies 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. Tree on August 6, 2011 at 11:35 am

    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. Meghan on August 9, 2011 at 6:04 pm

    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!

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