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Young's Helleborine

Epipactis youngiana

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Orchidaceae (Orchid)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
50 centimetres tall
Meadows, riversides, wasteland, waterside, woodland.

Pink, 5 petals
A flower spike consisting of pink petals and green sepals. The margins of the sepals are pink or white. 1 three horned stigma. Self-pollinating.
The fruit is a capsule which produces numerous dust-like seeds.
Broadly oval, pointed leaves with parallel venation. The leaves are alternate up the stems. Perennial. Can be found growing on old mine wastes inside woods.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Epipactis youngiana, also known as Young's helleborine, is a species of orchid that is native to western North America. It is a perennial herb that grows to a height of about 20–50 cm. The flowers are typically greenish-white or pinkish-white and bloom from June to August. The plant prefers damp, shady habitats such as meadows, stream sides, and redwood forests. It is considered endangered in Oregon and critically endangered in California.


Epipactis youngiana, commonly known as Young's Helleborine, is a species of orchid that is native to the Pacific Northwest region of North America. This beautiful orchid is named after Reverend William M. Young, who first discovered it in the late 1800s in the Cascade Mountains of Washington state.

Young's Helleborine is a terrestrial orchid that can grow up to 50 centimeters tall. It has a distinctive spike of small, greenish-white flowers that bloom from June to August. The flowers are arranged in a loose, elongated cluster and have a slightly sweet fragrance.

One of the interesting things about Young's Helleborine is that it is a mycoheterotrophic plant, which means that it obtains its nutrients from a fungus that is associated with the roots of trees. This allows the orchid to grow in areas where the soil is nutrient-poor and the orchid cannot photosynthesize enough to sustain itself.

Despite its beauty and ecological significance, Young's Helleborine is a rare and threatened species. It is found in only a few locations in the Pacific Northwest and is threatened by habitat loss, invasive species, and other human activities. In addition, the plant's reliance on a specific fungus for survival makes it vulnerable to changes in the surrounding environment.

Conservation efforts are underway to protect Young's Helleborine and its habitat. In some areas, the orchid is being transplanted to new locations where it can grow and thrive. Researchers are also studying the plant's interactions with the fungus that it depends on, in order to better understand how to protect this unique and important species.

Young's Helleborine is an important species not only because of its ecological significance, but also because it has been used in traditional medicine by indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest. It has been used to treat various ailments such as respiratory infections, stomach problems, and even tuberculosis. However, due to its rarity and threatened status, harvesting of the plant is strictly regulated.

The orchid has also captured the attention of researchers and orchid enthusiasts because of its unique beauty and biology. In cultivation, it can be grown in well-draining soil in a shady location with some humidity. It is also important to note that it should not be collected from the wild and should only be obtained from reputable nurseries or propagation programs.

In addition to its ecological and cultural significance, Young's Helleborine also serves as a reminder of the importance of preserving biodiversity and protecting endangered species. As humans continue to alter and fragment natural habitats, it is critical that we take action to protect the plant and animal species that call these habitats home.

One of the challenges in conserving Young's Helleborine is that it is difficult to survey and monitor. The plant can be hard to spot because it blends in with its surroundings and it only blooms for a short period of time. Therefore, it is important to work with local communities, landowners, and conservation organizations to gather information about the locations and populations of the orchid.

Conservation efforts for Young's Helleborine also involve protecting its habitat. The plant grows in moist, shady environments such as old-growth forests, wetlands, and stream banks. Human activities such as logging, development, and invasive species introduction can disrupt the natural balance of these ecosystems and threaten the survival of the orchid. Therefore, efforts to protect and restore these habitats are critical for the survival of the species.

Another important aspect of conservation is education and outreach. By raising awareness about the importance of Young's Helleborine and its role in the ecosystem, we can encourage people to take action to protect it. Education and outreach can also help to dispel myths and misconceptions about the plant and promote responsible behavior around its conservation.

Research on Young's Helleborine is ongoing, with scientists studying its biology, ecology, and interactions with other species in its habitat. For example, recent studies have investigated the genetic diversity and population structure of the orchid, as well as its interactions with the fungus that it depends on for nutrients.

In addition to scientific research, there are also efforts to engage local communities in the conservation of Young's Helleborine. For example, some organizations have organized volunteer programs to monitor and survey populations of the orchid, and to assist with habitat restoration and management.

Another important aspect of conservation is collaboration between different groups and stakeholders. For example, partnerships between government agencies, landowners, conservation organizations, and local communities can help to develop and implement effective conservation strategies for Young's Helleborine.

Overall, the conservation of Young's Helleborine is an important and ongoing effort that requires ongoing attention and action. By working together to protect and restore the orchid's habitat, monitor populations, and educate others about its importance, we can help to ensure the survival of this unique and beautiful species for future generations.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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