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Giant Epipactis (Stream Orchid; Giant Helleborine; Helleborine)

Epipactus gigantea

Epipactis gigantea

Synonyms: Amesia gigantea; Limodorum giganteum; Peramium giganteum; Serapias gigantea; Helleborine gigantea

Family: Orchidaceae – Orchid Family

Perennial herbs; erect stems arising from a rhizome; 11.8" to 4.6' (3 to14 dm) tall

Leaves: alternate; simple; leaves 2.2” to 8” (5.5 to 20 cm) long, 0.8” to 2.8” (2 to 7 cm) wide

Flowers: showy; 3 to 12 flowers; 3 petals green to rose to brownish purple; lip has strong veins marked with red or purple; petals 0.32” to 0.36” (8 to 9 mm) long, 0.28” to 0.32” (7 to 8 mm) wide; one petal (the lip) differs from the other two petals in size and coloration; lip 0.6” to 0.72” (15 to 18 mm) long; 3 sepals green to rose with purple or red nerves; sepals 0.24” to 0.32” (6 to 8 mm) wide

Pollinators: other genera in this family are pollinated by insects

Fruits: capsule

Blooms in Arches National Park: April, May June, July, August

Habitat in Arches National Park: along streams, rivers, seeps and hanging gardens

Location seen: around springs and seeps

Other: The genus name, “Epipactis”, is either from the Greek “epipaktis” or “epipegnuo”, the name adopted for this genus which was originally called “hellebore” which refers to a milk-curdling property claimed for some species. The species name, “gigantea”, means “gigantic” referring to the height of the plant.

Did You Know?

Detail of petroglyph panel

Native Americans never inhabited Arches on a year-round basis, though they certainly roamed the area searching for wild game, useful plants and rocks for tool-making. Petroglyphs near Wolfe Ranch are thought to have been created by Indians from the Ute/Paiute cultures. More...