This genus includes over 20 species of terrestrial orchids, mostly temperate but a few tropical, with creeping stems and fleshy roots. The following can be grown in the open garden.
is a North American species with a rather misleading name as it is not very big. The stems are leafy, 30-60cm (12-241n) tall, with yellow-brown flowers striped with pink or purple which appear in late spring and summer. It increases well in light shade, in a soil which is well drained but does not dry out completely
the marsh helleborine, is a British native similar to the last species. The sepals are purplish-brown, the petals white tinged with pink at the base, and the lip white marked with yellow. It likes a fairly damp situation, preferably not in acid soil.
Orchids contains about 30 species of terrestrial orchid with ovoid tubers, occurring in Europe and temperate Asia, as far east as China. There are seven British native species, although most are rare. A few can be grown in an open garden, either in a rock garden or naturalized in grass. However, most growers have them in pots in an alpine house, using a similar compost to that given for Ophrys .
the early purple orchid, is the most common of the British species, growing 15-60cm (6-241n) tall with leaves heavily spotted with purple. The light purple flowers have darker spots and appear in dense spikes in spring.
the lax-flowered orchid, is fairly widespread in Europe. It is a tall plant with a loose spike of rose-pink or lilac flowers in spring and early summer.
the green-veined orchid, used to be common in Britain but is now much rarer. It varies from 5-50cm (2-20in) tall and usually has whitish or purplish sepals and petals veined with purple and green, and a purple lip. It flowers in spring and early summer. This is one of those species that sometimes appears in lawns and anyone who is lucky enough to have a colony should be careful not to mow the grass until seed has been shed, usually at about the end of July or early in August.
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