Epipogium aphyllum

Epipogium aphyllum, the ghost orchid (not to be confused with the American ghost orchid, Dendrophylax lindenii) is a hardy myco-heterotrophic orchid[1] lacking chlorophyll.

It is famous for its unpredictable appearance; in many localities it has been seen just once.[2] It is found in beech, oak, pine and spruce forests on base-rich soils. It is a rare and critically endangered plant in habitat, and is believed to be extinct throughout much of its former range, although it has been recently confirmed in the United Kingdom (2009), an area where the plants were believed to have gone extinct.[3]

The plants are protected in many locales, and removing the plants from habitat or disturbing the plants, even for scientific study, can be a very serious matter in many jurisdictions. These plants are exceptionally rare and should never be removed from habitat or disturbed.[4]

In 1926 the Welsh botanist Eleanor Vachell was asked by the British Museum to investigate a report of the Ghost Orchid in England. For many years the Welsh National Herbarium at Amgueddfa Cymru (National Museum of Wales) had only a small rhizome that had been gathered by Vachell on 29 May 1926.[3]

ghost orchid
Epipogium aphyllum plants
Epipogium aphyllum-003
ghost orchid flower
Scientific classification
E. aphyllum
Binomial name
Epipogium aphyllum

Satyrium epipogium L.


Once thought to be saprophytic, these hardy plants are actually obligate mycoheterotrophs (or epiparasites) that obtain nutrients from mycorrhizal networks involving basidomycete fungi that are in turn associated with the roots of various species of coniferous trees. They grow from an underground, burrowing stem which lacks chlorophyll and possesses ephemeral leaves that are small scales. The plants only emerge above ground to flower, especially during very wet summers in Western Europe.

The plants have an extremely wide range of distribution. The species is widespread across much of Europe and northern Asia from Spain to Kamchatka and south the Himalayas.[5][6] It is, however, exceptionally rare in habitat. The plants are all found in areas which typically experience cold winters. The plant's rhizomes are densely colonized by fungi bearing clamp-connections and dolipores, all basidiomycetes, gill or pore-forming mushroom species that are normally found growing in mycorrhizal association with the roots of coniferous trees.

These plants harness an array of fungal symbionts across several families, often simultaneously. Analysis of these plants have identified Inocybe species as exclusive symbionts for 75% of the plants in habitat, as well as others (Hebeloma, Xerocomus, Lactarius and Thelephora). The plants also host ascomycete endophytes, which appear to assist the plant in parasitizing some of the plant's basidiomycete symbionts.[4]

The plants defy cultivation outside of laboratory conditions, as they require not only specific fungal symbionts, but also specific host trees with which these mushroom species form mycorrhizal relationships. Large plants of this species can produce a rather stunning woodland display with up to a dozen flower stalks at once bearing 3–4 flowers each growing out of coniferous leaf litter.[2]

Chromosome number is often stated as 2n = 68, though one research article questions whether this value could be for a different Epipogium species.[7]


  1. ^ UKTV Viewer Enquiries. Plants Behaving Badly. Murder and Mayhem. Blu-ray. UPC 4006448510039
  2. ^ a b Juliette Jowit (March 8, 2010). "Ghost orchid comes back from extinction". The Guardian.
  3. ^ a b Ghost orchids - a fleeting occurrence in dark, shaded woods, 3 July 2013, Museum of Wales, retrieved 21 August 2016
  4. ^ a b Melanie Roy; Takahiro Yagame; Masahide Yamato; Koji Iwase; Christine Heinz; Antonella Faccio; Paola Bonfante; Marc-Andre Selosse (2009). "Ectomycorrhizal Inocybe species associate with the mycoheterotrophic orchid Epipogium aphyllum but not its asexual propagules". Annals of Botany. 104 (3): 595–610. doi:10.1093/aob/mcn269. PMC 2720653. PMID 19155220.
  5. ^ Altervista Flora Italiana, Epipogio, Ghost Orchid, Epipogium aphyllum
  6. ^ Flora of China, v 25 p 208, 裂唇虎舌兰 lie chun hu she lan, Epipogium aphyllum
  7. ^ Journal of Ecology - Biological Flora of the British Isles: Epipogium aphyllum Sw.

External links

Dendrophylax lindenii

Dendrophylax lindenii, the ghost orchid (a common name also used for Epipogium aphyllum) is a perennial epiphyte from the orchid family (Orchidaceae). It is native to Florida and Cuba. Other common names include palm polly and white frog orchid.

Eleanor Vachell

Eleanor Vachell (1879–1948) was a Welsh botanist who is remembered especially for her work identifying and studying the flora of Glamorgan and her connection with the National Museum of Wales where she was the first woman to be a member of its Council and Court of Governors. The museum now holds her botanical diary, notes, books, records and specimens.


Epipogium, commonly known as ghost orchids or as 虎舌兰属 (hu she lan shu), is a genus of four species of terrestrial leafless orchids in the family Orchidaceae. Orchids in this genus have a fleshy, underground rhizome and a fleshy, hollow flowering stem with small, pale coloured, drooping, short-lived flowers with narrow sepals and petals. They are native to a region extending from tropical Africa to Europe, temperate and tropical Asia, Australia and some Pacific Islands.

Fiddler's Elbow National Nature Reserve

Fiddler’s Elbow National Nature Reserve is a steep sided, woodland national nature reserve of 45 hectares in the Upper Wye Valley to the north of Monmouth in Wales, close to the Wales–England border. It is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) for its biological characteristics, containing a wide variety of flora.

Ghost orchid

Ghost orchid, is a common name for several orchids, and may refer to:

Dendrophylax lindenii, the American ghost orchid

Epipogium aphyllum, the Eurasian ghost orchid

Leningrad Oblast

Leningrad Oblast (Russian: Ленингра́дская о́бласть, tr. Leningradskaya oblast’, IPA: [lʲɪnʲɪnˈgratskəjə ˈobləsʲtʲ]) is a federal subject of Russia (an oblast). It was established on August 1, 1927, although it was not until 1946 that the oblast's borders had been mostly settled in their present position. The oblast was named after the city of Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg). Unlike the city, the oblast retains the name of Leningrad.

The oblast overlaps the historic region of Ingria and is bordered by Finland (Kymenlaakso and South Karelia) in the northwest and Estonia (Ida-Viru County) in the west, as well as five federal subjects of Russia: the Republic of Karelia in the northeast, Vologda Oblast in the east, Novgorod Oblast in the south, Pskov Oblast in the southwest, and the federal city of Saint Petersburg in the west.

The first governor of Leningrad Oblast was Vadim Gustov (in 1996–1998). The current governor, since 2012, is Aleksandr Drozdenko.

The oblast has an area of 84,500 square kilometers (32,600 sq mi) and a population of 1,716,868 (2010 Census); up from 1,669,205 recorded in the 2002 Census. The most populous town of the oblast is Gatchina, with 88,659 inhabitants (as of the 2002 Census). Leningrad Oblast is highly industrialized.

List of extinct and endangered species of Lithuania

This is a list of extinct, endangered and threatened animals of Lithuania. Collection of this list started in 1959 and the current version (2003) contains 815 species: 23 mammals, 75 birds, 128 insects, 224 flowering plants, 199 fungi and lichen.

List of extinct plants of the British Isles

The following are plant species which are or have been held to be at least nationally extinct in the British Isles, since Britain was cut off from the European continent, including any which have been reintroduced or reestablished, not including regional extirpations. Many of these species persist in other countries.

Adonis annua, pheasant's eye (extinct in Ireland, Scotland and Wales, survives in England)

Agrostemma githago, corncockle (died out in Ireland, reintroduced) persists in all countries of the United Kingdom

Ajuga genevensis, blue bugle (extinct across the whole of the British Isles since 1967)

Anthemis arvensis, corn chamomile (died out in Ireland, reintroduced) persists in all countries of the United Kingdom

Arnoseris minima, lamb-succory (extinct across the British Isles in 1971) one recent sighting in England

Aulacomnium turgidum, swollen thread moss (extinct in England since 1878) persists in Scotland

Bartramia stricta, upright apple-moss (extinct in England since 1864) persists in Wales

Bromus interruptus, interrupted brome (died out in the wild globally in 1970) (reintroduced from stored seed in 2004)

Bryum calophyllum, matted bryum (extinct in England since 1983) may persist in Scotland

Bryum turbinatum, topshape thread-moss (extinct across the British Isles since the 1940's)

Carex davalliana, Davall's sedge (extinct across the British Isles since 1852)

Carex trinervis, three-nerved sedge (extinct across the British Isles since 1869)

Caucalis platycarpos, small bur parsley (extinct across the British Isles since the 1950's)

Centaurium scilloides, perennial centaury (died out in England in 1967) possibly persists in Wales and the south of England

Conostomum tetragonum, helmet-moss (extinct in England since the 1950's) persists in Scotland

Crepis foetida, stinking hawksbeard (died out across the British Isles in 1980) (reintroduced)

Cynodontium polycarpon, many-fruited dogtooth (extinct across the British Isles since the 1960's)

Cynoglossum germanicum green houndstongue (died out in Scotland) persists in England

Cystopteris alpina, alpine bladder-fern (extinct across the British Isles since 1911)

Cystopteris montana, mountain bladder-fern (died out in England in 1880) persists in Scotland

Dicranum elongatum, dense fork-moss (extinct across the British Isles since the late 1800's)

Diplophyllum taxifolium, alpine earwort (died out in England in the 1950's) persists in Scotland

Epipogium aphyllum, ghost orchid (England only, was extinct for several years, rediscovered, extinction very likely)

Euphorbia peplis, purple spurge (extinct in England since 1951) persists in Northern Ireland

Euphorbia villosa, hairy spurge (died out in England in 1924) one recent sighting in England

Galeopsis segetum, downy hempnettle (died out in England in 1975) a few recent sightings in England, Wales and Ireland

Gyroweisia reflexa, reflexed beardless moss (extinct across the British Isles since 1938)

Helodium blandowii, Blandow's bogmoss (extinct across the British Isles since 1901)

Herzogiella striatella, Muhlenbeck's feather-moss (died out in England in the 1950's) persists in Scotland

Hieracium cambricogothicum, Llanfairfechan hawkweed (was an endemic, so globally extinct since 2008)

Kiaeria falcata, sickle-leaved fork-moss (died out in England in the 1950's) persists in Scotland and Wales

Matthiola sinuata, sea stock (died out in Ireland and Scotland) persists in Wales and England

Najas flexilis, slender naiad (died out in England in 1982) persists in Scotland and Ireland

Nitella gracilis, slender stonewort (died out in England in 1914) may survive in Scotland

Otanthus maritimus, cottonweed (died out in England in 1936) persists in Ireland

Paludella squarrosa, tufted fen-moss (extinct across the UK since 1916)

Philonotis tomentella, woolly apple-moss (died out in England in the 1950's) persists in Scotland

Pohlia proligera, bent-bud thread-moss (died out in England in the 1950's) persists in Scotland and one recent sighting in England

Polygonatum verticillatum, whorled solomon's-seal (reintroduced or reestablished)

Pterygoneurum lamellatum, spiral chalk moss (extinct across the British Isles since 1970)

Saxifraga rosacea, Irish saxifrage (died out in England in 1960) persists in Wales and Ireland

Scandix pecten-veneris, shepherd's needle (extinct in Ireland) persists in Scotland, Wales and England

Scheuchzeria palustris, Rannoch rush (extinct in England since 1900, extinct in Ireland) persists in Scotland

Serratula tinctoria, saw-wort (extinct in Ireland) persists in England and Wales

Sphagnum obtusum, obtuse bog moss (extinct across the British Isles since 1911)

Sphagnum strictum, pale bog moss (extinct across the British Isles since the 1950's) 2 recent unconfirmed sightings in Scotland

Spiranthes aestivalis, summer lady's-tresses (extinct across the British Isles since the 1950's)

Spiranthes romanzoffiana, Irish lady's tresses (extinct in England since the 1990's) persists in Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland

Tetrodontium repandum, small four-tooth moss (extinct across the British Isles since 1958)

Tolypella nodifica, bird's nest stonewort (extinct across the British Isles since 1956)Mosses feature frequently in the list. The flowering plant families appearing most frequently in the list are the Asteraceae and the Orchidaceae. Commonly cited reasons for plant extinctions in the UK include habitat loss, drainage, changes to farming systems and overgrazing. The most threatened habitats in the UK include meadows, peat bogs and marshes. The United Kingdom and Ireland both have a relatively small proportion of forest cover compared to other countries. In 2017 the UK was 13% forested In 2019 Ireland was just 11% forested. Charities involved in plant conservation in the UK include The Wildlife Trusts, Plantlife, The Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland, Back From The Brink and Chester Zoo. Sightings of any of these species should be reported to the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland, or the British Bryological Society in the case of mosses.

List of sequenced plastomes

A plastome is the genome of a plastid, a type of organelle found in plants and in a variety of protoctists. The number of known plastid genome sequences grew rapidly in the first decade of the twenty-first century. For example, 25 chloroplast genomes were sequenced for one molecular phylogenetic study.The flowering plants are especially well represented in complete chloroplast genomes. As of January, 2017, all of their orders are represented except Commelinales, Picramniales, Huerteales, Escalloniales, Bruniales, and Paracryphiales.

A compilation of all available complete plastid genomes is maintained by the NCBI in a public repository.

List of the vascular plants in the Red Data Book of Russia

This is a complete and as of 2009 up-to-date list of vascular plants listed in the Red Data Book of the Russian Federation and protected in Russia at the federal level.

List of the vascular plants of Britain and Ireland (monocotyledons)

This page's list covers the monocotyledon plants found in Great Britain and Ireland. This clade includes grasses, lilies, orchids, irises and a wide variety of aquatic plants.

Status key: * indicates an introduced species and e indicates an extinct species.

List of vascular plants of the Karelian Isthmus

This is a comprehensive list of the vascular plants of the Karelian Isthmus, a land mass in Russia connected to Finland on one side and otherwise surrounded by three bodies of water: the Gulf of Finland, the Neva River, and Lake Ladoga.

Orchid of the Year

The Orchid of the Year is a yearly honor given since 1989 to an orchid species native to Germany by the Arbeitskreis Heimische Orchideen (Native Orchid Research Group, AHO), a German orchid conservation federation. The choice of orchids follows the endangerment of the species or its habitat due to human pressure.


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