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 latifolia subsp. helleborine
Synonym:Serapias helleborine



Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Partial to Full Shade



Foliage Color:

Medium Green


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)

Where to Grow:

Grow outdoors year-round in hardiness zone


Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:

Chartreuse (yellow-green)

Medium Purple

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Size:

Under 1"

Bloom Time:

Mid Summer

Other details:

May be a noxious weed or invasive

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


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Alameda, California

Boulder Creek, California(2 reports)

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

East Lansing, Michigan

Muskegon, Michigan(4 reports)

Pinconning, Michigan

Rochester, Michigan

Royal Oak, Michigan

Newport, New Hampshire

Butler, New Jersey

Ridgewood, New Jersey

Franklinville, New York

Manorville, New York

Niagara Falls, New York

Panama, New York

Slingerlands, New York

Kingsville, Ohio

North Ridgeville, Ohio

Swanton, Ohio

Westlake, Ohio

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania

Lakewood, Washington

Brookfield, Wisconsin

Waukesha, Wisconsin

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Jun 29, 2019, Bennie3116 from East Lansing, MI wrote:

Beautiful little orchid that comes up every year like a present in my wild flower garden. The last couple of years the plants withered as we were in drought. But this year I have a number of them and cannot wait until they blossom. Difficult to photograph due to size and shaded areas where they grow.


On Jul 31, 2018, DaylilySLP from Dearborn Heights, MI (Zone 6a) wrote:

Mine showed up in Southeast Michigan a few years ago.
They are only under a large Spruce and a few in a shady flower bed next to the tree.
When I looked them up to see what they were, I saw they are supposed to be invasive, but I have no more than I had the first year.
I have let them bloom, then pull them out. (all the roots don't come, as they are very deep). This has kept them at bay.


On Jun 12, 2018, mboettch from Brookfield, WI wrote:

I agree with the informed posts by bmetzer and wardbob. This is an invasive plant. Others should educate themselves. Wisconsin has even restricted this plant.
[[email protected]]
I have found it in my pakasandra and rose shrubs, where it cannot be sprayed. I tried pulling it, but it returns. So far, my most effective treatment is using a 1/4" artist's paint brush and painting full strength roundup concentrate on the leaves.


On May 25, 2018, bmetzer from Cleveland, OH wrote:

This is extremely invasive. I cannot overstress how invasive it is. If any of the root is left behind it will shes up another shoot. The roots are massive clumps of thick roots, sometimes 18 long.

I read somewhere to try Crossbow which Im spraying directly to the leaves with a gloved hand, this is the 2nd year trying this.

Do not let it go to flower or seed. Pick the heads to prevent it from proliferating.


On Jun 12, 2017, wardbob from Westlake, OH wrote:

PLEASE don't let these very invasive monsters bloom. They are on the invasive list of several states. Apparently they produce seeds very quickly. One source I read said they are tiny, so likely to be spread easily by wind.

I saw my first two about 3 years ago in my lawn in Northern Ohio. Unfortunately I let one grow to see what it became. When it flowered, they were so tiny I wasn't impressed.

The next year, those two showed up again along with dozens all over my front yard. Some were in my hosta bed and I was able to dig some up. Their root system is like a hand full of octopuses.

This year I have lopped over a hundred or so. I have not found information anywhere on how to eradicate them. They tend to come up in the shade of other pla... read more


On Aug 14, 2016, Tiffit65 from Newport, NH (Zone 5a) wrote:

I first noticed these epipactis helleborine growing in the woods behind my house. A few years ago I decided to make a wooded trail, or path that winds around a giant cherry tree, and a huge bittersweet vine. I planted Jack-in-the-pulpet's around the cherry tree, and they are massive compared to the jacks that are scattered around the area.
I wanted to make sure these helleborine didn't get pulled up, so I places bamboo skewers with bright pink tags in them. Well....within a week the helleborine withered, and died! I have seen them around a pond I go kayaking in, and they are so tall, and full of flowers. Everyone says they are invasive, but I can't even keep one alive.
The whole idea behind making a wooded path, is to keep all the plants native. I've built bench's to si... read more


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 ... read more


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.

It's also beginning to appear on authoritative lists of invasive plants, like: http://www.nps.gov/plants/alien/pubs/midatlantic/plants-to-w...

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.


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.


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.


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.)


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 t... read more


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 thi... read more


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 ... read more


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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?


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... read more


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.


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.


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.


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 eNature.com.