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Marsh helleborine


20 to 65 centimeters


outer petals: purplish-brown
inner petals: white


June through August


wasps and many other insects


seed, root stocks with runners

life span:



Europe, Western Asia, Northern Africa

  • Dut: Moeraswespenorchis
  • Lat: Epipactis palustris
  • Eng: Marsh Helleborine
  • Fren: Epipactis des marais
  • Ger: Sumpfwurz
  • Dan: Sump-kŠllingetand
Marsh helleborine, foto fitis, sytske dijksen

Marsh helleborine

Marsh helleborine is a rare plant with beautiful flowers and legally protected. The plant needs an alkaline, nutrient-poor and wet environment and grows preferably in sunny places. These orchids are mostly found in marshy dune slacks, where they blossom in massive numbers. The Dutch name 'moeraswespenorchis' (marsh wasp orchid) refers to the habitat where it grows and one of the major insects that pollinate the flowers. Marsh helleborine is found on the Wadden Islands, in the North Holland dunes and in the delta region. It is often found together with another rare orchid species, the fen orchid.

  • Pollinators
    Marsh helleborine, foto fitis, sytske dijksen

    The nectar from the marsh helleborine is highly desired by many kinds of insects. Besides wasps, honey and solitary bees, bumblebees, hoverflies and other flies, soldier beetles and other beetles and even ants help pollinate the flower in their attempt to get to the nectar. It is unknown whether marsh helleborine has the same alluring powers as its family member the broad-leaved helleborine. This orchid species is much more dependent upon wasps for pollination, alluring them using its color and seducing odor. Some people claim to have witnessed how the wasps tumble out of the flower and as addicted individuals, they search for new flowers to drink from. Very handy way to spread one's pollen!