Definition of bird's-nest orchid in US English:

bird's-nest orchid


  • A European woodland orchid that lacks chlorophyll, the whole plant being yellowish-brown. It obtains nourishment by linking its nestlike mass of thick roots to a soil-dwelling fungus from which it absorbs nutrients.

    Neottia nidus-avis, family Orchidaceae

    • ‘The Bird's-nest Orchid is particularly unusual in that it is saprophytic (ie depends on dead plant or animal tissue for its source of nutrition and metabolic energy), has no chlorophyll whatsoever and is therefore a dull pale brown, lacking the flamboyance and colours normally associated with orchids.’
    • ‘The woodland of Brick Kiln Rough is oak dominated with an interesting ground flora, including daffodil, bird's-nest orchid and bluebell.’
    • ‘The Bird's Nest Orchid (Neottia nidus-avis) is a saprophyte (i.e. it lives on decaying organic matter) and it possesses no chlorophyll. Indeed, its leaves have been reduced to ineffectual scales.’
    • ‘Reading up on it the Bird's-nest Orchid doesn't have green leaves to collect its energy from sunlight.’
    • ‘Is this a young Bird's-Nest Orchid?’