John and Gerry's    Orchids of Britain and Europe

Home The genus Neottia                 

            OriginNeottia  meaning "nest", a reference to the root system.

The species:-

N. cordata
N. nidus-avis
N. ovata


This genus originally consisted of a single European species (N. nidus-avis) but recent molecular analysis has concluded that the small genus previously known as Listera should also be included  within the Neottia family. The genus now consists of some 50 species worldwide of which three fall within the scope of this site.

The root systems of Neottia orchids are non tuberous with small creeping rhizomes that are surrounded by a mass of sturdy roots. Many of the genus are saprophytic, gaining their sustenance from the close association they maintain with mycorrhizal fungus. The two European species inherited from the former Listera genus are not saprophytic although they possess similar root systems.

All of the species produce a single flower spike and the frequent appearance of an apparently multi-stemmed clump is the result of vegetative rhizome splitting - they are all individual plants.