Phantom Orchid – Eburophyton austiniae

Orchid Family – Orchidaceae

Actual flower size: ½ inch across

Actual flower size: ½ inch across

Another Latin name for Phantom Orchid is Cephalanthera austiniae

Plant Description: The Phantom Orchid is a waxy, white- all-over perennial, including flower, stem and clasping bracts. It stands erect, 8 to 20 inches tall, with 10 to 20 flowers along its stem.  There are no leaves.

Flower Description: Two .75 inch long petals and a sepal form a shield above the lower petal. The lower petal forms a small open sac with a “spout” and has a yellowish spot in the throat, the only color on this plant.  Two sepals are below the lower petal.

Ecology: Phantom Orchid grows in forests at low to mid elevations.


  • Phantom Orchid emits a faint sweet vanilla-like perfume.
  • Phantom Orchid is a saprophyte, feeding off decomposing forest litter and hence needs no chlorophyll or sunlight.  It is associated with a single family of fungus.
  • In addition to its ghostlike appearance, it is also “phantom” in that it is rare and lies dormant, sometimes with many years elapsing between flowerings, then suddenly sends up a shoot and flowers.


Phantom Orchid Photo Gallery

Photo information: #9125, #9126  and #9135 were taken on June 25, 2003, near the Delo Wall on Cougar Mt., I-405,  Newcastle, WA;  #4960 was taken on July 27, 2002 in the Swamp Lake area, I-90, exit 62 (Kachess Lake Road);  #3214 was taken on May 14, 2005 on the Dog Mt. Trail, Columbia Gorge, Hwy 14, Carson, WA.


Actual flower size: ½  inch across