Epipactis palustris 

Scope: Europe
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Plantae Tracheophyta Liliopsida Orchidales Orchidaceae

Scientific Name: Epipactis palustris (L.) Crantz
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Marsh Helleborine
Amesia palustris (L.) A. Nelson & J. F. Macbr.
Arthrochilium palustre (L.) Beck
Calliphyllon palustre (L.) Bubani
Cymbidium palustre (L.) Sw.
Helleborine palustris (L.) Schrank
Limodorum palustre (L.) Kuntze
Serapias palustris (L.) Mill.
Serapias helleborine ssp. palustris L.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern (Regional assessment) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2011
Date Assessed: 2011-07-08
Assessor(s): Rankou, H.
Reviewer(s): Fay, M. & Bilz, M.
European regional assessment: Least Concern (LC)
EU 27 regional assessment: Least Concern (LC)

Epipactis palustris is widespread and often found in dense colonies. The populations are overall declining, however the existing threats are unlikely to cause the populations to decline severely in the near future. Therefore, Epipactis palustris is assessed as Least Concern.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:

Epipactis palustris is found in Europe and Asia in the sub-meridional and temperate zones. In Europe, it is found north to Denmark, southern Scandinavia and the Baltic States and south to Portugal, northern Spain, southern Italy, central Greece, Bulgaria, and Ukraine, and also in Corsica and Sicily. The species is absent from lowlands. It extends its range to Turkey and northern Iran, and eastwards to Lake Baikal in eastern Siberia. The species can be found up to 2,100 m altitude. (Bournérias and Prat 2005, Delforge 1995, GIROS 2009, Harrap and Harrap 2009, Lang 2004, Pignatti 1982, Rossi 2002, The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew 2010, Vakhrameeva et al. 2008).

Countries occurrence:
Albania; Austria; Belarus; Belgium; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Bulgaria; Croatia; Czech Republic; Denmark; Estonia; Finland; France (Corsica, France (mainland)); Germany; Greece (Greece (mainland)); Hungary; Ireland; Italy (Italy (mainland), Sardegna, Sicilia); Latvia; Lithuania; Luxembourg; Moldova; Netherlands; Norway; Poland; Portugal (Portugal (mainland)); Romania; Russian Federation (Central European Russia, East European Russia, Kaliningrad, North European Russia, Northwest European Russia, South European Russia); Serbia; Slovakia; Slovenia; Spain (Spain (mainland)); Sweden; Switzerland; Turkey (Turkey-in-Europe); Ukraine (Krym, Ukraine (main part)); United Kingdom (Great Britain, Northern Ireland)
Additional data:
Upper elevation limit (metres):2100
Range Map:175923-1

Population [top]


Epipactis palustris is rather widespread and often found in dense colonies which are largely clonal. The species is rare in the boreal and meridional zones (Scandinavia, southern Italy, Balkans). The population has a decreasing trend. (Bournérias and Prat 2005, Delforge 1995, GIROS 2009, Harrap and Harrap 2009, Lang 2004, Pignatti 1982, Rossi 2002, Vakhrameeva et al. 2008).

Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:

Epipactis palustris is found in damp grassland, seepages, springs, dune slacks and spring-fed rich fens. It prefers damp to wet sites with mostly neutral to alkaline groundwater and relatively short, open vegetation to thrive. This species grows in full sun and flowers from the beginning of June to August. (Bournérias and Prat 2005, Delforge 1995, GIROS 2009, Harrap and Harrap 2009, Lang 2004, Pignatti 1982, Rossi 2002, Vakhrameeva et al. 2008).

Systems:Terrestrial; Freshwater

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade:

There are no known uses.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s):

Epipactis palustris is declining due to drainage, water abstraction, destruction of fens and marshes and eutrophication. The enrichment of ground water by fertiliser has caused suitable fens to become overgrown with vigorous vegetation and the abandonment of grazing or mowing increases this invasion. In addition, the plant is affected by tourism. (Bournérias and Prat 2005, Delforge 1995, GIROS 2009, Harrap and Harrap 2009, Lang 2004, Pignatti 1982, Rossi 2002, Vakhrameeva et al. 2008).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions:

All orchid species are included under Annex B of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Epipactis palustris is included in the following national red lists:

  • Endangered in Bulgaria (Petrova and Vladimirov 2009), Czech Republic (Holub and Procházka 2000), Luxembourg (Colling 2005), Norway (Artsdatabanken 2010) and Finland (Rassi et al. 2010)
  • Vulnerable in Germany (Ludwig and Schnittler 1996)
  • Near Threatened in France (UICN France et al. 2010) and Hungary (Király 2007)
  • Least Concern in Denmark (NERI 2007), Switzerland (Moser et al. 2002) and the United Kingdom (Cheffings and Farrell 2005)
The species is protected in several countries at the national level such as Belgium and Luxembourg, and at the regional level in France. It is protected in Northern Ireland under Schedule 8 of the 1985 Wildlife Order (NI). The following actions are recommended to protect Epipactis palustris;
  • Protection of the habitat from ploughing, agricultural uses and extensive use of fertilisers.
  • Management of grazing to control the overgrowth of fens by other vigorous vegetation.
  • Water regime must be ensured, drainage of fens should be avoided, and provision of small dams may be necessary to avoid drying out of the site in spring.
  • Sympathetic management of isolated populations.
  • Fencing vulnerable sites.
  • Raise public awareness.
  • Protection of the living individuals through legislation which bans the species from being picked or dug up.
  • Ex situ conservation: artificial propagation, re-introduction, seed collections.
  • Monitoring and surveillance of the existing populations and sites.
  • Estimate the population size and study their dynamics.
(Bournérias and Prat 2005, Delforge 1995, GIROS 2009, Harrap and Harrap 2009, Lang 2004, Pignatti 1982, Rossi 2002, Vakhrameeva et al. 2008).

Citation: Rankou, H. 2011. Epipactis palustris. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2011: e.T175923A7144352. . Downloaded on 19 March 2018.
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