Corallorhiza maculata (Spotted Coralroot) - photos and description









General: Native orchid with stems varying in colour from red to flesh-coloured (most common) to yellow. This plant lacks chlorophyll and does not photosynthesize. It instead uses specific fungi in the soil to derive sugars from the roots of other plants.

Sometimes can be found in large clumps, 50+ stems.

Flowers: Flowers in a long raceme. The lip is three-lobed, with two small lateral lobes, and a large, showy middle lobe white in colour with reddish-purple spots. The two lateral petals and three sepals grow in a fan pattern behind the lip. Flowers were measured to 16 mm diameter, the lip at 6 mm long and 4 mm wide. The entire raceme measured at 12 cm long.

SKCDC who are interested in tracking rare varieties of our native species, rank var. maculata as an extremely rare S1, with the more common var. occidentalis as an S4. Here’s the FNA key for these two varieties:

 - Middle lobe of lip expanded slightly or not at all distally, ratio of widths of dilated part to base of middle lobe less than 1.5; floral bracts averaging 0.5–1 mm.  …..             var. maculata

 - Middle lobe of lip distinctly expanded, ratio of widths of dilated part to base of middle lobe more than 1.5; floral bracts averaging 1–2.8 mm.  ……  var. occidentalis

Lilies, Irises & Orchids of Saskatchewan writes the rare var. maculata is found in SK in the Cypress Hills.

Leaves: None. Leaves are reduced to what are described as “sheathing scales” clasping the bottom of stems.

Height: Height listed in Budd's Flora to 50 cm, we measured plants to 39 cm tall.

Habitat: Shady woodlands, in the parklands and boreal Forest.

Abundance: Listed as uncommon in Checklist of the Vascular Plants of Saskatchewan.

Origin: Native.

When and where photographed: Photos taken June 22nd, lodgepole pine forest, Cypress Hills, June 25th in moist, rich woods in the boreal forest, near La Ronge, and June 29th in mixed forest in the Moose Mountains.