Neottia nidus-avis

Bird's-nest orchid; Néottie nid d'oiseau; Vogelnestwurz; Nido d'uccello

Across much of Europe in beech and pine woods, from Ireland to Turkey and eastern European Russia, and from north Africa to Germany and Scandinavia. Ascending to 2000 metres altitude.

Top photograph: Slovenia 1989.
© Alan Hill.

A distinctive species, with practically no chlorophyll. Stems and flowers uniformly brown in clour, without leaves, except for brownish scales on the stems. It is a parasite on the fungus (known as a mycorrhizal fungus) which inhabits the orchid's roots. The fungus/orchid combination is effectively a perennial saprophyte feeding on decomposing leaf litter, or perhaps the mycorrhiza may be shared with nearby tree species.

The vernacular names arise from the nest-like appearance of the roots

Lower photograph: Dolomites, N Italy, 1999.
© Alan Hill.

Click photographs for larger image.

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© National Museums and Galleries of Northern Ireland, 2004