Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Species, Natural Hybrid Orchid, Broad-leaved Helleborine
Epipactis helleborine

Family: Orchidaceae (or-kid-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Epipactis (ep-ih-PAK-tiss) (Info)
Species: helleborine (hel-le-BOR-in-ee) (Info)
Additional cultivar information: (natural hybrid)

Synonym:Epipactis atroviridis
Synonym:Epipactis consimilis
Synonym:Epipactis dalhousiae
Synonym:Epipactis discolor
Synonym:Epipactis herbacea

5 members have or want this plant for trade.


6-12 in. (15-30 cm)

3-6 in. (7-15 cm)
6-9 in. (15-22 cm)
9-12 in. (22-30 cm)
12-15 in. (30-38 cm)

USDA Zone 3a: to -39.9 C (-40 F)
USDA Zone 3b: to -37.2 C (-35 F)
USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

Sun Exposure:
Partial to Full Shade

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Mid Summer


Other details:
May be a noxious weed or invasive
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From seed; germinate in vitro in gelatin, agar or other medium

Seed Collecting:
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds
Seed does not store well; sow as soon as possible

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There are a total of 12 photos.
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4 positives
9 neutrals
9 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive Rhodieguy On Jun 21, 2014, Rhodieguy from Waukesha, WI wrote:

I like this orchid because it offsets the big gaudy flowers that otherwise dominate. I think that this grows under trees that have ectomycorrhizal fungi, which it must somehow use to get energy. Many orchids use these fungi to get started. I say this because I have only seen it under trees like basswood, birch, oaks, and pines, which use ectomycorrhizal fungi. I have never seen a juvenile plant. I only see blooming size plants. Has anyone ever seen an undamaged Epipactis helleborine without flowers? My guess would be no. So, it must be some sort of root parasite in the sense that even though it has chlorophyll, its entire juvenile life stage is probably parasitic. That might be its key to invasiveness. It is also my guess why people "plant" the seeds and see nothing. It probably takes years to get big enough to come up blooming size, and by then, people have forgotten that they put the seeds into the area.

So, if this supposition is right, this provides a way to get rid of it, if you're willing to trade off one invasive for another. If you plant garlic mustard, another invasive, it is supposed to produce a chemical that kills off mycorrhizal fungi. If so, you will interrupt the underground part of the orchid's life cycle. I would consider trading bad for worse, but it might work if you really can't stand it. Or, cut down the ectomycorrhizal trees and plant something like an elm, that uses endomycorrhizal fungi. I bet that might work, too. But that's just a guess.

Negative coriaceous On Feb 1, 2014, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

It's only slowly, and with reluctance, that I've decided to consider this plant a weed. In several of the gardens I've maintained it's been multiplying to the point of being out of control, and the small green flowers aren't ornamental enough to pull their weight.

June 22, 2014: To try to control helleborine by planting garlic mustard, as proposed above by Rhodieguy, would be illegal in 8 states, and is based on speculation alone. I'd bet you'd wind up saddled with not one, but two invasives.

Negative ViolaAnn On Jul 14, 2013, ViolaAnn from Ottawa, ON (Zone 5a) wrote:

Definitely invasive and definitely spreads by more than seeds - I suspect a vast underground root system. Each year I pull them out before they are mature enough to seed and the next year they are back in increased numbers. They come up in huge clumps in the lawn, in the middle of my perennials, and even under pavers with enough force to lift them.

Positive ehander On Jul 6, 2012, ehander from Boulder Creek, CA wrote:

Personally, I love free orchids!!!! I've just discovered two of these around my 1/2 acre of redwoods and I'm totally delighted. (Thanks to a member of the Santa Cruz Orchid Society who identified it for me!)

And now I hear I can look forward to more of these guys in the future...wooooowhooooo!

Of course, at one time I thought that feverfew was a pretty little plant, too. Now, I'm over run with the stuff! So, talk to me about this sweet little orchid in a few years.

Seems to be very hardy and have quite a range.

Negative ando_mac On Jun 30, 2012, ando_mac from North Muskegon, MI wrote:

I live in North Muskegon, MI and this plant is taking over our block! It first showed up 4 years ago and the neighbors and I have found nothing that can stop it!

Has anyone had success getting rid of this?

The local Ace Hardware ordered a special weed killer called "Spurge Power" a three-way, post emergent, selective broadleaf herbicide. It is $30 for a small bottle of concentrate and I am going to try applying it today.

Let me know if anything has worked for you. (Other than digging hundreds of holes in the lawn.)

Negative Denedorf On Jun 1, 2012, Denedorf from Elgin, IL wrote:

I noticed one or two of these plants in the mulched area under my trees last year and left it alone, being curious. Bad mistake, because it has turned out to be highly invasive, scarily so. This year I have dug up more than 400 of them, mostly on my property but also on three of my neighbors' property, and I find more every day. It is true that you have to dig deep to get to the bottom of the root to eliminate them. They do occasionally pop up in the lawn but always where there are trees (I have tall hickories in addition to oaks). I'm glad I learned here that it's shade they thrive on, because they hide so well under other plants I thought they were an intelligent species! I will continue peering under everything and digging them up this year in an attempt to eradicate them and will try to let you know if I am successful.

I sent pictures (which I will post here) and asked for info from the Dept. of Agriculture in Illinois and this is their response:

I have shared your photo's with several weed experts at the University of Illinois. Below is a response I have pasted from one of the weed specialists.

I didnt recognize it at first, so I sent your message to Steve Hill, who identified it as Epipactis helleborine, weed orchid or broadleaf helleborine. Its a known invasive, apparently becoming worse in some areas.

I did a quick search on control and didnt come up with anything substantive.

The plant is not native to North America and apparently is very invasive. I suggest entering the botanical name Epipactis helleborine into a google search and you will find alot of information from several botanists and universities. The plant appears to be quite difficult to eradicate or control.

Neutral DWRead On May 21, 2012, DWRead from Ridgewood, NJ
United States wrote:

Information from our County Extension office:

"The plant is Epipactis latifolia also known as weed orchid. RoundUp generally doesn't work, Weed-B-Gon might. Licensed lawn care professionals might have access to chemicals to control this weed."

Negative witz1960 On Jun 13, 2011, witz1960 from Muskegon, MI wrote:

This plant (weed) appeared in my lawn 5 or 6 years ago. It is most prevalent in the areas most shaded by oak trees. My neighbor just told me that she has them in her front yard garden too. There is a grassy area behind a local pharmacy that has these things come back year after year too. Between mine / my neighbor's home and the pharmacy are 9 homes with little or no tree cover and NONE of these weeds

I have pulled, I have used Roundup, I have just cut them. While Roundup killed it off one year, it was back the next year.

This week I am going through and digging them up trying to get the entire nodule type root ball.

I see that, for some reason, the most sightings of this weed are here in Muskegon. Please.. Anybody that wants these things in their garden please come to west Michigan. In the meantime, how can we get rid of this?

Negative skisk8 On Jun 14, 2010, skisk8 from Pittsburgh, PA wrote:

This plant showed up in the mulched area of my shady garden under a huge Scarlet Oak tree. It has multiplied quickly and invaded all my hostas and shrubs making it difficult to get rid of. I tried applying Round Up using a gloved hand so as not to kill my valued plants for two summers in a row. This stuff is tenacious and has recurred for the third year running. Our local Phipps Conservatory could not identify it, nor my gardener, and finally in desperation I took it to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History to the Botany Dept. and they identified it. Still no clues for eradicating it. This year I am trying to dig it up, collecting as much root as I can to slow down it's proliferation. It has spread to my neighbor's grass. If you cut it off, it sends up two shoots, then three, and so on. It isn't even pretty as the flowers are so tiny. Beware! This is not a native and is very invasive.

Positive ChuckP On Jun 6, 2010, ChuckP from Adrian, MI wrote:

This came up in my woodland wildflower garden a few years ago and has expanded slowly from one clump to four clumps. I do not see it on a Michigan list of protected plants nor does the USDA list it as invasive in any state. The flowers are exquisite but small. It seems to be very hardy.

Neutral Hoagie On Mar 19, 2010, Hoagie from North Tonawanda, NY wrote:

I first noticed this plant about two summers ago, growing under the tall pine trees in the woods on our property in Cattaraugus County in NY State. I could not identify it until now. This past summer (2009) I have noticed more of them, in the same general location. I really like the way they look, and left them where they were.
This past summer, my daughter spotted some growing in her yard in Niagara County. She may have brought them there from our property, because she dug up some trees and other wildflowers and transported them to her house.

Neutral plantaholic186 On Sep 1, 2009, plantaholic186 from Winnetka, IL wrote:

Interestingly, this plant is considered 'protected' in Michigan (as in 'do not pick'). I have seen it in the U.P., but it doesn't seem to be spreading quickly.
It has, however, found its way into my garden in the Chicagoland area.

Neutral lizzym4678 On Jun 23, 2009, lizzym4678 from Slingerlands, NY wrote:

I have had this plant come up in all of my beds (mostly full to part shade). This year I have had a white version come up in 2 beds (one quite sunny and one extremely shady). Has anyone else seen white versions? The whole plant is white, as if it were blanched. It has yet to flower; I'll share notes when it does.

Neutral Chickadee12 On Jan 14, 2008, Chickadee12 from Brookfield, CT (Zone 5b) wrote:

I found a few voulenteers in my rock garden this year. I let them be, thinking they may have been something I planted that was late to come up. What I got were these cute little orchids. Sadly, they seem to be on the menu for aphids.

Negative Dawn123 On May 29, 2006, Dawn123 from East Lansing, MI wrote:

grows in my parents yard, not only in the garden area but pops up all over the grass. Seems to be quite invasive. Looking for a way to get rid of it. Has only been there a few years. but I've read it can persist underground for years surviving on food provided by a fungus.

Negative Equilibrium On Dec 9, 2004, Equilibrium wrote:

I never bothered to look up whether it was deemed invasive or not in my state however The Wisconsin Botanical Information System is deeming it introduced, naturalized and ecologically invasive. I know the plant volunteered for me from somewhere a few years ago and then the next year there were about 10 of them and then the following year there were consderably more of them and they were no longer concentrated to the original area in which I had located them. I have removed them all... I think.

Their native range is Europe. They love to take over disturbed areas.

Negative GardnGator On Sep 20, 2004, GardnGator from Tallahassee, FL (Zone 8a) wrote:

I cannot be positive on this, but I believe I read that this plant is considered an invasive in North America. My neighbor who grows it says it spreads readily (too much?) Can anyone verify this?

Positive hawke0431 On Mar 8, 2004, hawke0431 from Muskegon, MI wrote:

I grow exotic species in my house, so it was a real treat to find it in my garden. I have had them in my gardens for 8 years now. I found my first one quite by accident, I was not able to weed that season till quite late, and found it blooming in my garden. They like good drainage, as most terestrial orchids do, they like a soil with sand in it best. They also appear to like acid, as I usually have them growing around pine trees and oak trees the best. They can be transplanted if absolutly nescisary, be sure to get all of the root. They are quite long. Most of mine here are the green and brown variety and they use bees, and hornets to propogate. The seed pods are eaten by the birds and are also spread that way. I have not had much success yet with seed collection to spread them to other parts of my garden, but one year I hope to find the secret!!! I would very much like to know if this plant is protected as cyripediums, by the DNR. If anyone has an answer, PLEASE let me know!!! I forgot to mention, most of my plants have seeded themselves in 3/4 to 1/2 sun locations, if this helps anyone!!!

Neutral dpd On Jul 22, 2003, dpd from Windham, NH wrote:

Epipactis Helleborine has shown up in my hosta garden for two years now. Last year I pulled it out thinking it was a weed. I live in Southern New Hampshire. I have many lady slippers in my woods but did not realize there were other wild orchids in the area. This year the plant showed up in two locations. Not unattractive but not a show stopper either. Prefers full shade, regular waterings.

Neutral Nobody On Jul 21, 2003, Nobody from Frankfort, KY wrote:

Epipactis species (e.g., gigantea) can be used as a substitute for Cypripedium in herbal medicine.

Neutral smiln32 On Aug 19, 2002, smiln32 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

Epipactis grows in almost any habitat, but it is usually found under a canopy of trees. Some people consider it to be a weed.

Neutral Kathleen On Sep 4, 2001, Kathleen from Panama, NY (Zone 5a) wrote:

This orchid is a native of Eurasia and northern Africa and was actually first recorded in the United States in Syracuse, New York (in 1879). It is quite common in many areas today.

I got this information from the experts at


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Alameda, California
Boulder Creek, California
Brookfield, Connecticut
New Milford, Connecticut
Ridgefield, Connecticut
Miccosukee Cpo, Florida
Elgin, Illinois
Winnetka, Illinois
South China, Maine
Harwich, Massachusetts
Roslindale, Massachusetts
Adrian, Michigan
Alanson, Michigan
Crystal, Michigan
Muskegon, Michigan (4 reports)
Pinconning, Michigan
Royal Oak, Michigan
Butler, New Jersey
Ridgewood, New Jersey
Franklinville, New York
Niagara Falls, New York
Panama, New York
Slingerlands, New York
Kingsville, Ohio
Swanton, Ohio
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania
Lakewood, Washington
Waukesha, Wisconsin

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