Corallorhiza maculata (Raf.) Raf.

spotted coral-root

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New England Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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North America Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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Facts About

Spotted coral-root is a saprophytic orchid, meaning that it obtains its nutrients from decaying organic matter through a parasitic relationship with a fungal mycelium, rather than from photosynthesis. It gets its common name from spots on the labellum, and from the swollen and branched, coral-like form of the rhizome.

Habitat

Forests

Characteristics

Habitat
terrestrial
New England state
  • Connecticut
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
Leaf arrangement
there are no apparent leaves except on the reproductive stems
Number of leaves on stem
absent
Form of lower petal
the labellum does not have a pouch-like shape
Lower petal outline
the labellum is lobed but not fringed
Main color of lower petal
white
Nectar spur
there are no nectar spurs on the flower
Inflorescence type
the inflorescence is a raceme (a long unbranched stem with stalked flowers growing along it)
Lower petal characteristics
the labellum is lobed
Lower petal length
4–9 mm
Sepal length
4.7–15 mm
Show All Characteristics
  • Flowers
    Flower bract length
    0.5–2.8 mm
    Flower petal color
    • brown
    • red
    • yellow
    Flower symmetry
    there is only one way to evenly divide the flower (the flower is bilaterally symmetrical)
    Flowering date
    • August
    • July
    Flowers per inflorescence
    6–41
    Form of lower petal
    the labellum does not have a pouch-like shape
    Hairs on flower stalk
    the flower stalk has no hairs on it
    Hairs on inflorescence axis
    the main stem of the inflorescence is hairless
    Inflorescence length
    100–650 mm
    Inflorescence type
    the inflorescence is a raceme (a long unbranched stem with stalked flowers growing along it)
    Inflorescence width
    15–65 mm
    Labellum position
    the labellum is in the lower position on the flower
    Lower petal characteristics
    the labellum is lobed
    Lower petal length
    4–9 mm
    Lower petal outline
    the labellum is lobed but not fringed
    Lower petal strongly red-veined
    no
    Main color of lower petal
    white
    Nectar spur
    there are no nectar spurs on the flower
    Nectar spur length
    0 mm
    Number of stamens
    1
    Orientation of side petals
    • the lateral petals are angled steeply upwards
    • the lateral petals slant outward
    Pollen sacs
    the pollinia remain intact and do not fragment into smaller parts
    Self-pollinating flowers
    there are no cleistogamous flowers on this plant
    Sepal length
    4.7–15 mm
    Sepals fused only to sepals
    the sepals are fused to each other (not other flower parts), at least near their bases
    Spots on lower petal
    yes
    Spur opening membrane
    NA
    Spur opening shape
    NA
  • Fruits or seeds
    Fruit length
    9–24 mm
    Fruit width
    5–9 mm
    Seed capsule orientation
    the capsule bends downwards or hangs downwards
  • Growth form
    Plant green or not
    the plant is achlorophyllous (it has no green parts)
    Roots
    the rhizomes are branched and resemble coral
    Underground organs
    this plant has a rhizome (a horizontal underground stem with roots growing from it)
  • Leaves
    Bract relative length
    the bract is shorter than the associated flower
    Features of leaves
    • NA
    • the leaf does not have any of the mentioned special features
    Leaf arrangement
    there are no apparent leaves except on the reproductive stems
    Leaf blade edges
    NA
    Leaf blade length
    0 mm
    Leaf blade shape
    NA
    Leaf blade tip
    NA
    Leaf blade width
    0 mm
    Leaves during flowering
    NA
    Number of leaves on stem
    absent
  • Place
    Habitat
    terrestrial
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Maine
    • Massachusetts
    • New Hampshire
    • Rhode Island
    • Vermont
    Specific habitat
    forests

Wetland Status

Usually occurs in non-wetlands, but occasionally in wetlands. (Wetland indicator code: FACU)

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

Connecticut
present
Maine
present
Massachusetts
present
New Hampshire
present
Rhode Island
present
Vermont
present

Conservation Status

Exact status definitions can vary from state to state. For details, please check with your state.

Massachusetts
fairly widespread (S-rank: S4)

var. maculata

Rhode Island
rare (S-rank: S2), concern (code: C)

Native to North America?

Yes

Sometimes Confused With

Corallorhiza odontorhiza:
upper petals and sepals +/- connivent to form a galea-like structure, labellum without lateral lobes, and plants mostly flowering in late August through late September (vs. C. maculata, with the upper petals and sepals not closely positioned to form a galea-like structure, labellum with a lateral lobe or tooth on each side, and plants flowering in early July through late August or rarely into early September).
Corallorhiza trifida:
labellum mostly 2-3.3 mm long and white, nectary spur absent, and stems commonly yellow-green (vs. C. maculata, with the labellum mostly 4-9 mm long and white and usually spotted with red-purple, nectary spur present, and stems commonly purple to brown).

Synonyms

  • Corallorhiza multiflora Nutt.

Family

Orchidaceae

Genus

Corallorhiza

Notes on Subspecies and Varieties in New England

Corallorhiza maculata (Raf.) Raf. var. maculata is known from CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT.C. maculata var. occidentalis (Lindl.) Cockerell is known from CT, MA, ME, NH, VT.

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

1.  Corallorhiza maculata (Raf.) Raf. N

spotted coral-root.  1a. Corallorhiza multiflora Nutt.;  1b. Corallorhiza maculata (Raf.) Raf. var. immaculata M.E. Peck • CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT. Mesic to dry-mesic forests, usually with a relatively open understory.

1a.  Floral bracts mostly 0.5–1 mm long, usually entire; middle lobe of labellum not or scarcely widened distally, the ratio of the width of the apical portion to the basal portion of the labellum less than 1.5 … 1a. C. maculata var. maculata

1b.  Floral bracts mostly 1–2.8 mm long, often bifid or even trifid at apex; middle lobe of labellum definitely expanded, the ratio of the width of the apical portion to the basal portion of the labellum more than 1.5 [Fig. 162] … 1b. C. maculata var. occidentalis (Lindl.) Cockerell

Variety maculata is known from CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT. Variety occidentalis is known from 
 CT, MA, ME, NH, VT. The latter variety flowers earlier than the former when the two taxa occur near one another.