Corallorhiza maculata var. maculata

This entry and (I neglected to mention, but now corrected) the two previous entries were written by Alexis:

Thank you to PietervH@Flickr for sharing this picture of Corallorhiza maculata var. maculata, taken in Newfoundland, Canada.

Corallorhiza, the coral-root orchids, are myco-heterotrophs, vascular plants species that rely on a parasitic relationship with fungi to supply the necessary nutrients to grow. Corallorhiza species have rhizomes instead of roots and even if stems cannot be seen above ground, oftentimes the rhizomes and fungi remain dormant underground. Flowering stems emerge when conditions are favourable (Luer’s The Native Orchids of the United States and Canada (1975)).

Corallorhiza maculata is among the most common and variable of the coral-roots. The stem, sepals, and petals of Corallorhiza maculata var. maculata can be anywhere from brownish-purple to yellowish. The name maculata is Latin for “spotted” (contrast with immaculate, i.e., spotless), a reference to the dark purple spots commonly found on the flower’s white labellum, which is a modified petal used for attracting pollinators. Varying plant colours sometimes delineate different varieties of the species. As an example, if Corallorhiza maculata var. flavida is recognized as a valid variety (it is not so recognized by the Flora of North America), then it is distinguished by its lemon-yellow appearance and bright white unspotted labellum (Szczawinski’s The Orchids of British Columbia (1959)).

Corallorhiza maculata grows best in the decaying humus of coniferous or mixed forests, flowering anywhere from April to September. The range of the species extends across Canada from British Columbia to Newfoundland, south through much of the western USA and northeastern USA, as well as Mexico and Guatemala.

Corallorhiza maculata var. maculata

7 responses to “Corallorhiza maculata var. maculata”

  1. Eric in SF

    This is a magical deep forest species. Because it doesn’t need sunlight you can find it growing in the most mysterious of places.
    Here is a closeup of the flower:

    And here is an allied species, growing in the same forest as the above closeup, Corallorhiza mertensiana:

  2. Michael Aman

    I’d like to be able to get up close to the tiny flower, face to face, and study the familiar configuration of its flower parts, details we can’t see from the photo. Then I could say, “Yup–orchid!”
    thank you for your photos and text.

  3. Norm Jensen

    @Michael Aman – Up close and personal with Corallorhiza maculata:

  4. Karen

    @Norm – that is a spectacular photo! Thank you for sharing!

  5. michael aman

    Thanks, Norm Jensen, for the “up close and personal” of corallorhiza maculata: Yup, it’s an orchid!”

  6. Daniel Mosquin

    *sigh* Eric’s comment (the first one) was caught by the spam filter, so I didn’t approve it until just now… after the ensuing question about requesting a close-up of the flower and accompanying discussion.

  7. Fern

    This brings back wonderful memories of wandering in the woods west of Canandaigua Lake with then Naturalist, John Cook and Prof. Billy “Bano” from CCFL! Thank you for the beautiful images. These things are so tiny that they could easily be mistaken for just small sticks.

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