Ghost orchid Epipogium aphyllum

Status Red - Endangered & Critically Endangered
Best Time to See May, June, July, August
Habitat Woodland

Its spooky name is rather apt: the ghost orchid is a pale flower - lacking both chlorophyll and leaves - and prefers to grow in poorly lit areas.

Furthermore, it is a plant that came back from the dead: the ghost orchid was thought extinct in the UK until it was found growing in a Herefordshire wood in March 2010.

It is still, however, one of our rarest plants. As such, Plantlife chose it as an emblem of the threat faced by our wild plants and fungi in our 'call-to-arms' report The Ghost Orchid Declaration (click here to download a copy).


At the time of its rediscovery, only a single plant in a secret location in Herefordshire! It has also been recorded in the Chiltern beechwoods.


Woodland.It relies on nutrient from rotting vegetation and is thus confined to deep, moist leaf litter in shaded parts of old beechwoods.


Following its rediscovery, the ghost orchid has been reclassified from being extinct in the UK to 'critically endangered'. As the plant is not growing in great numbers there is still a chance it could disappear again and - this time - never return.

Did you know?

It spends most of its life underground Once every ten years or so, the underground rhizomes can form a flower-bud which, depending on the weather, may put up a flower-spike the following summer.