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Plant Families / Epipactis - Helleborines

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Epipactis - Helleborines

Epipactis (Helleborines) is a genus of terrestrial orchids containing about 25 species distributed across North and Central America, Eurasia, and North Africa. These orchids often grow in disturbed habitats, including on roadsides, lawns, cracks in sidewalks, and former quarries; in undisturbed habitats, they can be found in moist or dry forests and swamps. They combine showy flowers with easy cultivation. Helleborine orchids produce several alternating stem leaves, without a basal rosette. The flowers have incurved upper petals, forming a helmet and the lower lip is curved into a cup shape.

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Epipactis gigantea (Giant Helleborine)

Epipactis gigantea (Giant Helleborine) is a terrestrial orchid with loose spikes of up to 32 showy flowers, 1 in. across (3 cm), spread out along the stem. The sepals are green or greenish, with petals ranging from greenish to pink to rose, often with purple-brown or red markings or veins. Blooming for several weeks from mid-spring to mid-summer, the flowers are borne on erect stems bearing mid-green, lance-shaped leaves. They bloom in sequence up the stem.

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Epipactis helleborine (Broad Leaved Helleborine)

Epipactis helleborine (Broad Leaved Helleborine) is a rhizomatous, terrestrial orchid with ravishing spikes of up to 50 small flowers presenting a variable combination of pink and green shades. Blooming in mid to late summer, they are borne on stems that can reach 36 in. (90 cm). The plant produces 3-10 leaves on its stem, which is covered with fine hairs. The dull green leaves are relatively broad, oval and prominently veined.

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Epipactis palustris (Marsh Helleborine)

Epipactis palustris (Marsh Helleborine) is a rhizomatous, terrestrial orchid with one-sided racemes of up to 25 small flowers presenting a variable combination of brownish-purple and creamy-green shades. Blooming in summer, the delicate blossoms are borne on a green stem, flushed pink-to-brown, that can reach 24 in. (60 cm). This orchid bears broad funnel-shaped leaves, 4-5 in. long (10-12 cm), sometimes flushed purple, that clasp the lower stem.

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