< Flora
Ghost Orchid
Epipogium aphyllum

This species' name - ghost orchid is very appropriate because it is a rare and mysterious plant. One reason to be so mysterious is that it may appear and then disappear for years in places where it was observed. This is not because the plant itself has died off, but because due to the conditions through the year it may not develop aboveground parts. But when the humidity, temperature and other environmental conditions are suitable, a 5-20 cm fleshy stalk boldly appear on the surface. Usually the plants grow single, more rarely in groups. Then the gentle flowers of the orchid open up releasing delicate flavour of banana. One of the reasons this beautiful orchid to be called "ghost" is that in the absence of chlorophyll, the stem and flowers are translucent, creamy white to light pink with red stripes.

The ghost orchid has no green leaves and feed only through symbiosis with fungi. So it takes nutrients from decomposing soil leaves. Therefore its rhizome are juicy, branched and resemble coral. The leaves actually resemble scales and have the same color as the stem.

The ghost orchid has great variety. It is found in many areas of Europe and North Asia from Spain to Kamchatka and south of the Himalayas. However, in its natural habitats the species is extremely rare. In Bulgaria it is found in well-preserved shady beech and pine forests. This orchid is recorded in 10 localities in Rila, Pirin, the Rhodopes and Strandzha. It blooms in late July and August but only during years with heavy, regular rainfall.
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