An Orchid Disguised as a Weed

The New York Times uncovers an orchid weed. Epipactis helleborine, known simply as helleborine, is an old world orchid species which has taken over North America, too. The fact that it’s happy in a wide range of growing conditions and soils, and can even grow in asphalt, helps explain its spread from coast to coast. Even in New York City, helleborine reliably sprouts in sidewalk cracks, driveways, rock walls, and gardens every year. “As a weed, helleborine proudly holds its head up with dandelions, dayflowers, horseweed, mugwort, plantains and smartweeds, but helleborine is an orchid, whose modified lip and floral structures are as tropical looking as any orchid growing in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden or the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx.” Helleborine is closely related to the Stream Orchid, the native North American species that I grow.

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3 Comments on “An Orchid Disguised as a Weed”

  1. Nick Jones Says:

    Is this the same type of orchid that grows in Buckingham Palace? They are both called helleborine.

  2. Marc Says:

    Hi Nick. No, this is a completely different orchid species, an Epipactis. The one at Buckingham Palace is a Cephalanthera. They have both helleborine in their common names. They are good examples of why people need to rely on Latin names to avoid confusion.

  3. Mario Parnes Says:

    my partner and i realy cherish both our epipactis. there’re lovable ! i’ve got one with green leaves and one with dark red leaves and red flowers. i really mostly enjoy the red one, on the other hand Absolutely adore both of them ! i’v been enjoying regular flowers on an annual basis just in time for our big July 4th bash. Nobody can believe we have orchids growing in our garden. they are really worth the effort !!! (: