Neottia nidus-avis
Neottia nidus-avis - Pruunikas pesajuur Keila.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Orchidaceae
Subfamily: Epidendroideae
Genus: Neottia
N. nidus-avis
Binomial name
Neottia nidus-avis
  • Ophrys nidus-avis L.
  • Epipactis nidus-avis (L.) Crantz
  • Listera nidus-avis (L.) Curtis
  • Helleborine nidus-avis (L.) F.W.Schmidt
  • Malaxis nidus-avis (L.) Bernh.
  • Serapias nidus-avis (L.) Steud.
  • Neottidium nidus-avis (L.) Schltdl.
  • Distomaea nidus-avis (L.) Spenn.
  • Helleborine succulenta F.W.Schmidt
  • Neottia macrostelis Peterm.
  • Neottia squamosa Dulac
  • Neottia orobanchoidea St.-Lag.
  • Neottia nidus-avis f. glandulosa Beck
  • Neottia nidus-avis f. dilatata Zapal.
  • Neottia nidus-avis f. micrantha Zapal.

Neottia nidus-avis, the bird's-nest orchid, is a non-photosynthetic orchid, native to Europe, Russia and some parts of the Middle East. [1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9]


Neottia nidus-avis grows to 40 cm (16 in) tall and each shoot can carry up to 60 flowers. Plants are not in any part green, deriving all their nutrition from a mycorrhizal fungus in the soil/litter, which in turn derives nutrition from the roots of trees.[10][11] Plants are generally beige-brown, though sometimes yellowish or white forms are discovered. The flower labellum splits and strongly diverges at its lower end. This species of orchid can be hard to spot, being camouflaged against the leaf litter.

Across Europe, this species flowers May-June.[10][11]

Distribution and habitat

It is widespread across most of Europe, occurring also in Algeria, Tunisia, western Siberia, the Caucasus, Iran and Turkey.

In the British Isles, Neottia nidus-avis is found in shady woodland, especially beech, on basic soils.[12] Its conservation status in the UK is near-threatened.[13]


Neottia nidus-avis has been found to flourish only in partnership with mycorrhizal fungi in the genus Sebacina, particularly Sebacina dimitica in the UK.[14]

Pollination is carried out by Diptera and possibly also ants. Self-pollination may occur if insects do not pollinate the plants.[15]


The Latin binomial Neottia nidus-avis, as well as the common names of this orchid in several languages, derive from a comparison of the tangled roots of the plant to a bird's nest.[10]

Twayblade orchids were recently reassigned to the genus Neottia after scientists found that they were closely related to N. nidus-avis.


  1. ^ a b "World Checklist of Selected Plant Families".
  2. ^ "World Checklist of Selected Plant Families TDWG Geocodes" (PDF).
  3. ^ Altervista Flora Italiana, Nido d'uccello, Bird's Nest Orchid, Neottia nidus-avis (L.) L.C. Rich. - Nomencl. ref.: De Orchid. Eur.: 37. 1817 includes European range map
  4. ^ Castroviejo, S. & al. (eds.) (2005). Flora Iberica 21: 1-366. Real Jardín Botánico, CSIC, Madrid.
  5. ^ Takhtajan, A.L. (ed.) (2006). Conspectus Florae Caucasi 2: 1-466. Editio Universitatis Petropolitanae.
  6. ^ Curtis, T. & Thompson, R. (2009). The orchids of Ireland: 1-160. National Museums of Northern Ireland, Cultra, Holywood.
  7. ^ Vázquez Pardo, F.M. (2009). Revisión de la familia Orchidaceae en Extremadura (España). Folia Botanica Extremadurensis 3: 1-367.
  8. ^ Dobignard, D. & Chatelain, C. (2010). Index synonymique de la flore d'Afrique du nord 1: 1-455. Éditions des conservatoire et jardin botaniques, Genève.
  9. ^ El Mokni, R., Mahmoudi, M.R. & El Aouni, M.H. (2010). Neottia nidus-avis (L.) L.C.M.Rich.: une nouvelle orchidée pour la flore de la Tunisie. L' Orchidophile. Revue de la Société Française d' Orchidophilie 186: 181-187.
  10. ^ a b c First Nature - Neottia nidus-avis
  11. ^ a b Albiflora - Neottia nidus-avis
  12. ^ Clive A. Stace (2010). "Neottia Guett. (Listera R. Br.) – twayblades". New Flora of the British Isles (3rd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 864–865. ISBN 978-0-521-70772-5.
  13. ^ Wildlife Trusts - Birds Nest Orchid
  14. ^ New Phytologist - Symbiotic germination and development of the myco‐heterotrophic orchid Neottia nidus‐avis in nature and its requirement for locally distributed Sebacina spp.
  15. ^ An Atlas of Orchid Pollination: European Orchids

External links