Saturday, July 7, 2012
Western and Early Coralroots at Goat Mountain
Goat Mountain in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest is the best site I know of for the seldom seen Early Coralroot (Corallorhiza trifida). It is hard to know if the plant is actually rare, since it is very small and hard to spot, but there is one area on Goat Mountain where they are abundant.
We went to see if they were blooming on June 27th. Our daughter was visiting from the United Kingdom (Belfast) and we went up to Mount Baker, but found so much snow there that it was impossible to do any hiking, so we headed further down to the Goat Mountain trail, a favorite of ours.
At the bottom of the trail, around 2500 feet in elevation a lot of Western Coralroots (Corallorhiza mertensiana) were starting to bloom. They were as variable as always, with stems ranging from off-white through yellow and light pink to a very dark pink and flowers ranging from purple to yellow and white.
I did not get a chance to take photos of them since we had plans to go out for dinner later in the evening and went back the next day to get some photos and to take more photos of the Early Coralroots. As is often the case a breeze was blowing and photography was difficult.
The Early Coralroots were blooming at a much higher elevation, around 4000 feet, just free of snow and where little else was growing or blooming. The Western Coralroots seem to prefer drier locations, but these were in a wetter, more level area and there were a lot of them.
The plants are only 15-20 cm tall and the flowers 1 cm in size, but very beautiful when seen close up. Those we saw had purple spotting but this is not always present, and though the stems can range from yellow to brown, these were all a bright yellowish-green.
We did also find one Fairy Slipper still blooming and my wife took some pictures of it. There were also a lot of what appeared from the brown color of the stems to be Spotted Coralroots growing at mid-elevations, but these were still several weeks from blooming.
The Heart-leaved Twayblades (Listera cordata) were also beginning to bloom and I was able to get a few photos. There were a lot of plants but most of them did not even have flower spikes yet. I believe that this is the var. nephrophylla, more common in the northwest.