Epipactis in Cambridge
 
Epipactis helleborine is a native of Europe and Asia that has become naturalized in North America. Each summer flowering stems emerge from garden beds on the former site of the Harvard Botanical Garden. Most of these individuals are green, but one individual is white, and apparently lacks chlorophyll. This individual has produced a flowering stem in 2001 (first observation), 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005. In 2003, I harvested roots from the achlorophyllous individual and from nearby chlorophyllous individuals. These roots contained ascomycete fungi assigned to the mycorrhizal genus Tuber (Bitardondo et al. 2004; Proc. Roy Soc B 271: 1799). Thus, the achlorophyllous individual has been able to flower in five successive years without photosynthesis. It is presumably a parasite on its associated fungi. By extension, the same may be true of the chlorophyllous individuals.
 
Photographs by Amity Wilczek
Epipactis in Cambridge
Achlorophyllous Epipactis
 
Green Epipactis