Epipactis palustris

Epipactis palustris (L.) Crantz

Orchidaceae – Orchid family

Conservation status. Endangered [EN B2ab(ii,iii,iv,v)]. BDA, CITES (2).

Morphology and biology. Perennial plant with horizontal rhizome. Stems 15–60(80) cm, slightly pubescent above. Leaves 4–8, lanceolate, sheathing, 7–18 × 2–4 cm. Inflorescence lax, with 7–15(20) flowers. Sepals and petals 8–13 mm, white with brown purple lines, labellum 9–13 mm; hypochile concave, white with red veins; epichile oval-cordate, white, with wavy margin. Ovary pubescent, fruit a pyriform pod. Fl. VI, fr. VII–VIII. Often self-pollinated. Reproduction by seeds and vegetative means.

Habitats and populations. The species is locally found in wet (marshy) meadows and dune slacks – habitats, the coverage of which crucially decreased during the past decades. The quality of many localities is deteriorating due to abandonment, turning into pastures, use of artificial nutrients and pesticides. The decline of the national population is about 30% for the last 3 generations. In the existing localities there are populations with areas up to 0.1 ha, but those with very limited area are more common, sometimes with only a few individuals remaining at the vegetative stage.

Distribution in Bulgaria. Locally in different regions, more common in Balkan Range, Sofia region and Rhodopi Mts (central), rare along Black Sea coast, Danubian Plain, Znepole region, Vitosha region, Belasitsa Mt, Pirin Mts, Rila Mts, Sredna Gora Mts, Toundzha Hilly Country; up to 1300 m alt.

General distribution. Europe, Asia Minor and W Asia (to Turkmenistan eastwards).

Threats. Main threatening factors are the human activities which change the hydrological conditions of the localities, sometimes destroying them; grazing, especially overgrazing; use of fertilisers and pesticides.

Conservation measures taken. Protected species by the Biodiversity Act. Some localities are within sites of the European ecological network Natura 2000 in Bulgaria.

Conservation measures needed. Inclusion in the list of species which need priority protection of their habitats according to the Biodiversity Act; developing a set of national rules for protection of the wet meadows and coastal zones.

References. Jordanov 1931b; Stojanov 1934b, 1964; Stefanov 1973; Meshinev et al. 1994; Venkova 1995; Delforge 2006.

Author: Antoaneta Petrova

Epipactis palustris (distribution map)

Epipactis palustris (drawing)