Broad-leaved helleborine - 10 seeds

Broad-leaved helleborine - 10 seeds

3.99

Epipactis helleborine, often known as just helleborine, is a wild orchid that is not native to North America, but which has taken root here. They can grow in a variety of conditions and settings and are aggressive and weedy in some areas. You can grow them in your garden, but be aware that helleborine plants have a tendency to take over.

Epipactis helleborine originates in Europe, and has been naturalized in some parts of the US; in the West, the plant occurs in scattered areas of Oregon and California, mainly close to the coast. This species is similar to epipactis gigantea, but the habitats are different (dry vs. wet), and the flowers are smaller.

Leaves are relatively long and wide, especially around the base of the stem, and they have the lengthwise veins typical of orchids. The inflorescence is an elongated cluster extending over the upper half (or more) of the stem, containing up to 20, alternately-arranged flowers, each subtended by a linear or narrowly lanceolate bract.

Flowers have three green, equally-sized sepals, often with purple stripes or tints, and three petals. The two side petals are white at the base, pink towards the tip, on the outside, more brownish-pink on the inner surface. The lower petal is similarly coloured and forms a distinct pouch towards the front.

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In some places, helleborine has become an unwanted weed because it grows so well and aggressively in a variety of conditions. Epipactis orchids in the landscape are undesirable for many, but these are pretty flowers and if you can control the growth, they make a nice addition. One bonus of growing these orchids is that they are low maintenance and will thrive without much care. Light soil is best, with good drainage, but helleborine will tolerate other types of soil. They are especially at home in wet conditions, along a pond edge or stream. Full sun is ideal, and some shade is acceptable but may reduce the number of blooms. Just keep in mind that Epipactis orchids can proliferate quickly, growing to form wide colonies and becoming invasive. They grow readily from even small fragments of root in the soil, so one way to manage your population is to grow them in pots sunk into the bed. If you do choose to clear an area of helleborine, make sure you get out the entirety of the root system, or it will likely come back.