This genus originally consisted of a single European species (N. nidus-avis) but
recent molecular analysis has concluded that the small genus previously
known as Listera should also be included within Neottia. The genus now consists of some 50 species worldwide of which three fall within the scope of this site.
The root systems of Neottia
orchids are non tuberous with small creeping rhizomes that are
surrounded by a mass of sturdy roots. Many of the genus are
saprophytic, gaining their sustenance from the close association they
maintain with mycorrhizal fungus. The two European species inherited
from the former Listera genus are not saprophytic although they possess
similar root systems.
of the species produce a single flower spike and the frequent
appearance of an apparently multi-stemmed clump is the result of
vegetative rhizome splitting - they are all individual plants.