Corallorhiza wisteriana Conrad

Coral Root

Corallorhiza wisteriana plant

Family - Orchidaceae

Stems - Flowering stems to 35 mm, glabrous, brownish or purplish, with little chlorophyll. Plants saprophytic, perennial, rhizomatous.

Leaves - Absent. Small sheathing bracts present on lower flowering stems.

Corallorhiza_wisteriana_bractsSheathing bracts.

Inflorescences - Racemes with 8-20 flowers.

Corallorhiza_wisteriana_inflorescenceInflorescence.

Corallorhiza_wisteriana_budsTerminal flower buds.

Flowers - Zygomorphic, perfect. Sepals and lateral petals 6-8 mm long, greenish purple, curved upward and inward and partially overlapping the upper sepal. Lip ovate to obovate, 5-6 mm long, with wavy margins, white with reddish purple spots. Stamens 1, staminodes absent. Ovary 1, unilocular.

Corallorhiza_wisteriana_flowerFlower.

Corallorhiza_wisteriana_flowers

Corallorhiza_wisteriana_flowers2

Fruits - Capsules 8-12 mm long, strongly ribbed, pendent.

Flowering - April - May.

Habitat - Rich forests, often on acidic substrate, glade margins.

Origin - Native to the U.S.

Other info. - Like many of Missouri's orchids, this one is relatively inconspicuous with small flowers and brownish stems which tend to blend in visually with surrounding leaf litter. It is one of two species of Corallorhiza found in Missouri. The other (C. odontoriza) has smaller flowers, which are usually cleistogamous, and blooms in the fall.

Corallorhiza wisteriana is found across much of the United States.

Photographs taken at Weldon Spring Conservation Area, St. Charles County, MO, 5-4-2011, and at Matson Hill County Park, St. Charles County, MO, 4-29-2015 (SRTurner).



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