Corallorhiza maculata (Raf.) Raf.
Summer Coralroot, Spotted Coralroot, Speckled Coral Root, Large Coral Root, Many-flowered Coral Root
Orchidaceae (Orchid Family)
Synonym(s): Corallorrhiza maculata
USDA Symbol: COMA25
Most orchids (this one included) of genus Corallorhiza have no chlorophyll and are mycoheterotrophic; that is, they utilize fungi to obtain carbon from the roots of other plants. Corallorhiza maculata utilizes ectomycorrhizal fungi in the genus Russula to obtain carbon from the roots of nearby trees.
This species has 10-30 purplish-brown to yellowish bilaterally symmetrical flowers in loose racemes along a yellowish or brownish, leafless floral stalk that has several sheaths toward the base. The specific epithet, maculata, means "spotted" and is given for the purple spots on the lip of the flower.
This northern orchid is the most common and largest coralroot. Several smaller species differ in color and in the nature of the lip. Five species occur in the East, among them: Wister's Coralroot (C. Wisteriana), which flowers from March to May, before any of the others and Late or Autumn Coralroot (C. odontorhiza), with flowers less than 1/5" (5 mm) long, the last to flower, appearing from late August to October.
From the Image Gallery
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White , Green , Brown
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep
DistributionUSA: AZ , CA , CO , CT , DE , GA , IA , ID , IL , IN , KY , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MT , NC , NE , NH , NJ , NM , NV , NY , OH , OR , PA , RI , SC , SD , TN , TX , UT , VA , VT , WA , WI , WV , WY
Canada: NB , NL , NS , ON , PE
Native Distribution: Alberta east to Newfoundland, south to Georgia, and north and west to Tennessee, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, and North Dakota; Texas; also throughout West.
Native Habitat: Usually moist, but occasionally dry, upland, shady forests.
Growing ConditionsLight Requirement: Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry , Moist
Conditions Comments: It lacks chlorophyll and gets its nourishment from fungi in its coral-like underground stem. (Niering)
BenefitConspicuous Flowers: yes
Mr. Smarty Plants says
Weird-looking rootless plant, perhaps a fungus
August 23, 2008
While out it my backyard (i.e. the Black Hills of South Dakota), I spotted a weird-looking rootless plant (I think it may be a fungus) growing beneath the Ponderosa Pines. It was the only one in the a...
view the full question and answer
National Wetland Indicator Status
Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Corallorhiza maculata in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Corallorhiza maculata in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Corallorhiza maculata
MetadataRecord Modified: 2016-03-04
Research By: TWC Staff