Corallorhiza trifida Chatelain

early 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

Early coral-root has a circumpolar distribution. It is a saprophyte, which means it obtains most of its nutrients from decaying organic matter through a parasitic relationship with a fungal mycelium, although it does contain chlorophyll and performs some photosynthesis. This species is mostly self-pollinating, its pollinia typically falling onto the stigma rather than becoming attached to an insect visitor.

Habitat

Anthropogenic (man-made or disturbed habitats), forests, swamps, wetland margins (edges of wetlands)

Characteristics

Habitat
  • terrestrial
  • wetlands
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
2.5–4 mm
Sepal length
3.5–7 mm
Show All Characteristics
  • Flowers
    Flower petal color
    • brown
    • green
    • purple
    • yellow
    Flower symmetry
    there is only one way to evenly divide the flower (the flower is bilaterally symmetrical)
    Flowering date
    • July
    • June
    • May
    Flowers per inflorescence
    2–20
    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
    20–80 mm
    Inflorescence type
    the inflorescence is a raceme (a long unbranched stem with stalked flowers growing along it)
    Inflorescence width
    10–30 mm
    Labellum position
    the labellum is in the lower position on the flower
    Lobes at base of lower petal
    0 mm
    Lower petal characteristics
    the labellum is lobed
    Lower petal length
    2.5–4 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
    • the lateral petals slant somewhat downward
    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
    3.5–7 mm
    Spots on lower petal
    yes
    Spur opening membrane
    NA
    Spur opening shape
    NA
  • Fruits or seeds
    Fruit length
    4.5–15 mm
    Fruit width
    4.3–6 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)
    • the plant is chlorophyllous (it has 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 bracts on stem
    2–5
    Number of leaves on stem
    absent
  • Place
    Habitat
    • terrestrial
    • wetlands
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Maine
    • Massachusetts
    • New Hampshire
    • Rhode Island
    • Vermont
    Specific habitat
    • edges of wetlands
    • forests
    • man-made or disturbed habitats
    • swamps

Wetland Status

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

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.

Connecticut
rare (S-rank: S2), special concern (code: SC)
Massachusetts
fairly widespread (S-rank: S4)
New Hampshire
uncommon (S-rank: S3), W (code: W)
Rhode Island
extremely rare (S-rank: S1), concern (code: C)

Native to North America?

Yes

Sometimes Confused With

Corallorhiza maculata:
labellum mostly 4-9 mm long and white and usually spotted with red-purple, nectary spur present, and stems commonly purple to brown (vs. C. trifida, with the labellum mostly 2-3.3 mm long and white, nectary spur absent, and stems commonly yellow-green).
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. trifida, 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 mid-May through mid-June).

Synonyms

  • Corallorhiza trifida var. verna (Nutt.) Fern.

Family

Orchidaceae

Genus

Corallorhiza

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

3.  Corallorhiza trifida Chatelain N

early coral-root. Corallorhiza trifida Chatelain var. verna (Nutt.) Fern. • CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT. Wet-mesic to hydric forests, under a variety of canopies but often with some component of evergreen trees.