Cephalanthera is a rhizomatous geophytic genus in the Orchidaceae family of about 15 species, found in Asia, Europe and North America. Some of the species are commonly known as helleborines, but share this name with various species of Epipactis. The genus contains both autotrophic and myco-heterotrophic species without any chlorophyll, as well as various mixed forms, so transplanting is strongly discouraged.

Cephalanthera damasonium (Mill.) Druce originates from Europe and parts of western Asia. It's the type species of the genus, and, compared to many other orchids, still quite common. Originally a forest species, it is even found in industrial areas in southern Germany, as long as the soil is rich in lime. This species mostly depends on self pollination, to a degree where the flowers often don't open up at all. Photographs by Martin Bohnet

Cephalanthera damasonium, Martin BohnetCephalanthera damasonium, uncharacteristically opened flower, Martin Bohnet

Cephalanthera falcata (Thunb) Blume is commonly known as the 'golden orchid' or kin-ran. It is found in Japan, Korea and China on woodland slopes. Synonym Epipactis falcata. Photograph taken in Japan by Mari Kitama.

Cephalanthera falcata, Mari Kitama

Cephalanthera longifolia (L.) Fritsch is accepted. Its native range is wide: Europe, Mediterranean to Central China, Taiwan and Japan. Photos taken in late April 2011 by Shlomit Heymann in the Carmel mountains, Israel, the first winter after a fire.

Cephalanthera longifolia, Shlomit HeymannCephalanthera longifolia, Shlomit Heymann

Cephalanthera rubra (L.) Rich. spreads throughout Europe, western Asia and even northern Africa. It's another lime-dependent species and likes filtered light, resenting both full sun and deep shadow. It is uncommon or threatened in most of its range. Photograph by Martin Bohnet

Cephalanthera rubra, Martin Bohnet

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