Epipactis palustris

Common Name: marsh helleborine 
Type: Orchid
Family: Orchidaceae
Native Range: Europe, Turkey
Zone: 6 to 9
Height: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: June to August
Bloom Description: Brownish-purple/creamy-green
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Rain Garden
Flower: Showy
Tolerate: Wet Soil


Easily grown in average, consistently moist to wet, well-drained soils in full sun to light shade. Prefers calcareous (lime rich), consistently damp, moisture retentive, nutrient-poor soils, including ones seasonally inundated. Soils should not be allowed to dry out. Plants spread by rhizomes and self-seeding.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Epipactis palustris, commonly called marsh orchid or marsh helleborine, is a fleshy-rooted ground orchid with long horizontally-creeping rhizomes. It is a plant typically found growing in neutral to highly calcareous soils, particularly favoring seasonally inundated marshy areas where competition from other vegetation is reduced. Plants will spread to form dense colonies over time. Habitats include fens, damp pastures, seeps, meadows, dune slacks, and abandoned gravel pits. Winter hardy to USDA Zone 7 (Zone 6 with protection). This orchid is native to central to northern Europe (generally absent from the Mediterranean region), the Caucasus, Turkey, northern Iran and central Asia. Included on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species under the category of Least Concern.

Five or six sharply-pointed oblong-ovate to oblong-lanceolate leaves (each to 4-5” long) sheath the stem base, with narrower ovate to narrow-lanceolate leaves on an upright flower stem which rises well above the leaf base to 12-24” tall. Flowers are brownish-purple (inner) and creamy-green (outer). The base of the flower lips is marked with dark purple-to-red veins. Flower inflorescence has 4-15 (infrequently 20) flowers in a one-sided raceme. Flowers bloom late June to August. Fruit is a nodding capsule containing very tiny seeds.

Genus name comes from the Greek epipaktis which is the Greek name for the plant or from the Greek word epipegnuo meaning coagulating milk.

Specific epithet means marsh-loving.


No serious insect or disease problems.


Attractive orchid for moist to wet garden areas. Pond/steam peripheries.