This species was first described by Linné (1753) as Ophrys nidus-avis, from Germany, Switzerland and France. Crantz (1769) proposed the new combination Epipactis nidus-avis. Curtis (1778) proposed Listera nidus-avis. Bernhard (1800) then transferred it to the genus Malaxis. Several other transfers and new combinations were proposed over the years which can be looked up on WCSP (2021). Finally, Richard (1817) proposed Neottia nidus-avis which is the accepted name for this species since the middle of the 19. Century, when a flood of proposals of geographical and morphological varieties and formas were proposed. Neottia nidus-avis is probably the most prominent mycoheterotrophic orchid known from Europe. The distribution of this species spans all over Europe (without Iceland) and includes Morocco, Algeria and Tunesia in Africa and Turkey, Iran and more northern countries, reaching a distribution up to central Russia including boreal zones and islands. Neottia nidus-avis is not entirely devoid of chlorophyll. This has been shown already by Drude (1873), who used a modified 'Pfeffer cell' to prove an existing but reduced respiration (to little to make a plant living) of Neottia nidus-avis in comparison with the green Orchis maculata. In a following experiment, Drude (1873) submerged a specimen of N. nidus-avis in 90% ethanol. This measure firstly extracted the brownish components from the plant material, turning the plant colour into a light green for only some minutes, until also the chlorophyll became dissolved.
Neottia nidus-avis (Linné) Richard 1817