|John and Gerry's Orchids of Britain and Europe|
|Until recently this genus consisted of just a single species, Neottia nidus- avis, the Bird's Nest Orchid. However recent molecular studies have suggested that the Twayblades (Listera species) although at first sight different in appearance, are closely related and they have now been included in the genus. The genus gets its name from the root system, that consists of a short rhizome with many roots (neottia - bird's nest).|
The genus can be divided into two groups, those plants that contain no chlorophyll (one species in Europe, N.nidus-avis) and those more usual green-leaved species (two species in Europe, N.cordata and N.ovata).
The flowers of the three species are fairly similar with the sepals and upper petals forming a loose hood and the lip being elongated and two-lobed.
Neottia nidus-avis containing no chlorophyll has only rudimentary leaves, whereas the Twayblades as the name suggests usually have a single pair of leaves.
Of the three species, Common Twayblade (Neottia ovata) is by far the most common across Europe.