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Epipactis gigantea: any ideas on germination?

Michael Moore hrbmoore at rt66.com
Tue Jan 10 20:43:38 EST 1995

I managed to collect several grams (maybe 3,000,000) of Epipactis
gigantea (Orchidaceae) seeds during a field trip to Owens Valley
(California) last September.  This is not my turf (I'm an
ethnobotanist)...I DO know the plants proliferate in the wild easily, 
both from seed and by vegetative growth, and this genus of orchid seems
to have far simpler pollenation strategies than most orchids.  I have
also found it flourishing in at least four distinct biospheres and with
wildly variable companion plants...ranging from Anemopsis to several
Adiantums to Lobelia cardinalis to Typhus, etc.   

Any ideas on germination strategies?  I need a moderate amount for some
NatProdChem workups and (A) I would like to compare constituents in wild
plants found in  different growing circumstances and (B) compare plants
germinated under several circumstances to the feral plants so that (C) if
comparable, I can have some friends cultivate Epipactis under controlled
circumstances so that (D) it may be able to be used as a medicinal plant
substitute for the assorted Cypripediums whose dried roots and rhizomes
are STILL in demand in the drug and herb trade.  (I forget E)

Despite being viciously reduced in most of their former habitat, and the
old crude drug populations disappearing around the Great Lakes and
Baltics (acid rain), there is still fair demand for Cypripedium roots
(any species will do!) in the world trade, and, with strikingly similar
constituents, and a far less parochial habitat, Epipactis (either  E.
gigantea or E. helleborine) might be a moral substitute.   

If it can be cultivated.

Michael Moore
Southwest School of Botanical Medicine
hrbmoore at rt66.com

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