Marsh Helleborine

Epipactis palustris

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A stunning orchid of wetland areas, the Marsh Helleborine can be found in fens, damp grassland, marshes and dune slacks, especially with chalky soils. Its rather loose flower spike carries up to 20 white and pink flowers during July and August; in some areas, forests of hundreds of plants can colour the green marsh vegetation. But despite its profusion in certain areas, the Marsh Helleborine is declining due to habitat loss.

How to identify

The Marsh Helleborine has broad, oval leaves at the base of the stem and narrower leaves higher up the stem. The flower spike consists of a loose cluster of white flowers with a white, frilly lip and reddish sepals that look like wings. They hang on reddish stalks attached to a reddish stem.

Where to find it

Grows mainly in England; locally common in the south.


When to find it

  • July
  • August

How can people help

Human activity, including the drainage of land for agriculture and development, has resulted in the disappearance of many of the UK's wetlands. The Wildlife Trusts are working closely with planners, developers and farmers to ensure our wetlands are protected and managed for the benefit of the plants and animals they hold, including the Marsh Helleborine. We have a vision of a 'Living Landscape': a network of habitats and wildlife corridors across town and country, which are good for both wildlife and people. You can support this greener vision for the future by joining your local Wildlife Trust.

Species information

Common name
Marsh Helleborine
Latin name
Epipactis palustris
Height: up to 50cm
Conservation status