Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Helleborine orchid at Havenwood

Epipactis helleborine
While I was out moving some bark mulch this week on to our new yew hedges, I noticed something under one of our mature yew by the front walk...

The terrestrial hellebore orchid, Epipactis helleborine, is native to Europe, but has been growing in Pennsylvania for many years. They come in various shades of green, yellow, pink and purple with flat, ribbed leaves. The dropping flower heads resemble the dropping flowers of Helleborus, known as the Lenten rose. (See some pretty ones at Gilmore Gardens from this past spring.)


Garden writer Graham Rice says that he spread his orchid seeds about for interesting shade garden combinations. Sounds like a fun idea! Here is to more orchids at Havenwood.

Linked up to Creative Country Mom's Tuesday Garden Party

16 comments:

  1. Lovely orchid. I have not seen these here in NY.

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    1. It may appear somewhere is your area, as it recorded from PA up to Canada. Maybe it is hiding under a bush? :)
      ~Julie

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  2. Three of these plants appeared in my town garden this year. I was very excited until I did some research on them. I dug them up and bagged them for the trash. From what I read they can be extremely invasive, and since I did not introduce them myself that is a little scary.

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    1. It is your garden, and so is your decision. But I wonder why it seems so scary when this plant does not harm humans or animals in any way. It is the fear of lacking complete control over your garden? All of my reading from accomplished gardeners has told me not to be afraid of these types of plants in the garden, because they produce some of the most beautiful effects in the garden. Manage them, but do not eradicate them. But, again, that all depends on the type of garden you wish to have.
      ~Julie

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    2. Hi Julie, I have just come across your blog. I am curious to know how your helloborine's are doing and if you are managing them or letting them grow wild?

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    3. Hi Dori,
      Now two years later, we still have only three plants in our garden. And I have not seen any seedlings show up yet. I also have not worked to propagate them myself, as Graham Rice suggested.

      They seem not to be invasive, aggressive or even strong growers in northern PA zone 5 dry, full shade. Would they be more so in part sun? I cannot say.

      Hope that helps!
      ~Julie

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  3. What a pretty little thing. I've never noticed them growing here.

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  4. Hi Julie: I did a post about these last year: http://bit.ly/1sX8S8u. Here are some additional links about it: http://nyti.ms/12JkDiQ and http://bit.ly/10SVzIB. Like you, I was very excited to see it at first. But I think this might be a plant to consider parting with--at least in a North American garden. It might crowd out some of your other beautiful native plants. Worth researching, anyway. I think it's beautiful, but I'm digging up any I see--deeply, to get rid of the rhizomes--and discarding them. I am, unfortunately, seeing new ones in various places in my garden this year, which is scary. Sad, I know. :(

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    1. Thanks Beth. I will appreciate reading your post about this plant.

      I guess I am a word purist: I prefer to save "invasive" and "scary" for plants that really warrant those words. Examples: Invasive Japanese Knotweed (which is also rhizomous and in our area), and scary Giant Hogweed (which is a terrifying plant that I think I may have seen in our local woods).

      Dandelions are far more invasive in my area than this orchid, but I have not heard them described as scary. :)
      ~Julie

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    2. Good point, Julie. Perhaps "scary" is too strong a word. "Invasive" is accurate, though. In fact, this plant is considered "highly invasive" in my state, and the DNR has directed us to eradicate it if we find it: http://wisplants.uwsp.edu/scripts/detail.asp?SpCode=EPIHEL. It can "outcompete native species and lead to a monoculture" and "destroy the habitat necessary for a healthy ecosystem." Unfortunately, this plant spreads by rhizomes, like Japanese Knotweed and Giant Hogweed. It's a beautiful plant, but it is invasive--at least here in Wisconsin.

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    3. Very true. Thanks for pointing out it is invasive in Wisconsin.

      But there appear to be no other states that have defined it as invasive. The National Parks Service says, "If you find these plants in the wild, outside of a planted landscape... it would be prudent to target them for removal. " http://www.nps.gov/plants/alien/pubs/midatlantic/plants-to-watch.htm. Also on this list are Spanish bluebells and summer snowflakes.

      Under those circumstances, I am fine with it in my garden, working to push it back where needed.

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    4. That makes sense, Julie. Some plants are more of a problem in some states than others. Sometime, I would like to see it in its native habitat. It certainly is lovely. :)

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  5. I think it is stunning!!! And let me just say that I have several plants that like to self seed in the garden....knot weed being one of them but I love the foliage and as long as I stay on top of them they add the most impressive display this time of year for shade. What a cool find! Wishing you a wonderful end to summer as well! Nicole xo

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  6. It is a long-lived herbaceous plant of the family of Orchidacées that we meet in forest.
    But how did she(it) arrive in your hedge(hurdle)?

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