Marsh helleborine

Marsh Helleborine

©Les Binns

Marsh Helleborine

©Philip Precey

Marsh helleborine

Scientific name: Epipactis palustris
The Marsh helleborine is a beautiful orchid of fens, wet grassland and dune slacks. Growing in profusion in places, look for reddish stems and white-and-pink flowers.

Species information


Height: up to 50cm

Conservation status

Protected in Northern Ireland under the Wildlife Order, 1985.

When to see

July to August


A stunning orchid of wetland areas, the Marsh helleborine can be found in fens, damp grassland, marshes and dune slacks, particularly on 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 places, 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 reddish stem. The flower spike consists of a loose cluster of white flowers that have a white, frilly lip and reddish sepals which look like wings; they hang on reddish stalks.


Mainly found in England; locally common in the south.

Did you know?

Marsh helleborines occur throughout Europe and also in parts of Asia and America.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts manage many wetland nature reserves for the benefit of the wildlife they support. You can help by supporting your local Trust and becoming a member; you'll find out about exciting wildlife news, events on your doorstep and volunteering opportunities, and will be helping local wildlife along the way.