Thursday, June 2, 2011
Corallorhiza maculata in Washington Park
I recently put up a post about the Spotted Coralroot, Corallorhiza maculata, but found them again at Washington Park on Fidalgo Island, and found both varieties there, though in different locations. The differences between these two varieties, though, are negligible, and it is sometimes the case that it is difficult to distinguish them from each other. In this cae, though, they seemed fairly different.
The Spotted Coralroot (below), Corallorhiza maculata var. maculata, has a lip which is more or less rectangular. The Western Spotted Coralroot (above), Corallorhiza maculata var. occidentalis, has a lip which is more or less round on the end. Paul Martin Brown says that they are separate in their flowering times, but in this case they were both at the peak of their flowering when I saw them.
The park is on a rocky outcrop of Fidalgo Island and has a one-lane road that runs around its perimeter. I walked the road against traffic (of which there was not much) about a third of the way and then took to the trails t along the cliffs and through the woods on the edge of the park. I found the first variety under the trees along the road on the east side and the second along the trails on the south side.
As can be seen from the pictures there definitely are two different lip shapes, but I really wonder if they are actually different varieties. Perhaps, though, I am just mistaking plants of the Western Spotted Coralroot with a less rounded lip for the other variety, but in that case it seems to me that the two so shade into each other that they do not warrant consideration as separate varieties.
I am not enough of a botanist, however, to know for sure, and certainly enjoyed seeing these unique plants even if my identification is not quite correct. They are remarkable plants, not only for their unusual colors, but also because they often spring up several feet away from where last year's dried flower spikes are still standing, and not always in the same numbers as the previous year.