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Epipactis palustris is a perennial herbaceous plant. This species has a stem growing to 60 cm high with as many as ten erect leaves up to 12 cm long and up to 4cm wide, with parallel venation. It persists as an underground horizontal stem called a rhizome, from which new roots and stems grow each year. The aerial part of the stem is upright and has a cylindrical section. The base of the aerial stem is glabrous (smooth) and surrounded with pink scales, the upper part of the stem is pubescent and slightly reddened. The flowers are 17 mm across arranged in a one-sided raceme. In the typical form, the sepals are coloured deep pink or purplish-red, the upper petals shorter and paler. The labellum at least as long as the sepals, white with red or yellow spots in the middle. Variants without most of the reddish colours of the typical form have been called E. palustris var. ochroleuca. The fruit is a many-ribbed capsule, containing a large number of minute seeds. Epipactis palustris is typically found in humid woodland and grassland, as well as in marshes, dune slacks and bogs. It prefers a calcareous substrate with a basic pH, low nutrient availability and medium wet.
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