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Vol. 15(4), pp. 6-17The McAllen International Orchid Society JournalApril 2014

A Summary of Holomycotrophic Orchids

Fred Campbell

This tiny group of orchid genera and taxa have a life-form which has been designated holomycotrophic (which has in the past often wrongly been called saprophyte and some orchids have even been designated as semi-saprophytic). For example the "common" European orchid species, Neottia nidus-avis is holomycotrophic. Part of the difficulty in identifying and classifying these holomycotrophic orchids is that some fully or partially lack chlorophyll. Many different terms and descriptions are used to describe the life-forms of these orchids e.g. Myco-heterotrophic in which the plant is in direct relationship with fungi in decaying vegetation and where it is dependent for their nutrition. Sometimes they are even referred to as epiparasitic, hermaphroditic, terrestrial saprophytic or non-photosynthetic plants, creating, in fact, a verbal jungle of different descriptions.

Fig. 1. Neottia nidus-avis. Segersholm, Kristianstad, Sweden. (see Table 1, pages 11-14) Photo: F. Campbell 09 June, 2013.

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Copyright © 2014 Fred Campbell