Saturday, May 30, 2015

More Coralroots

We visited recently a site on Whidbey Island where we had seen the Western Coralroot, Corallorhiza mertensiana, many times before, but we did not find very many of them this year, though enough to photograph.  These showed the usual rainbow of colors with pink, purple, white, tan and yellow stems and endless variation in the spotting of the flowers and coloring of the lip.

Corallorhiza mertensiana

The endless variation in the color of this species makes it rather pointless to name different forms, but the light-stemmed forms have been named and are identified as Corallorhiza mertensiana fma. pallida.  We found plenty of these mixed in with the darker-stemmed forms, different color forms often growing in the same clump of plants, and all on rather barren forest floors.

Corallorhiza mertensiana fma. pallida

It is interesting that in the mountains the native orchids seem more abundant this year, but near the coast the orchids have been fare fewer.  Perhaps in both cases this is due to the warm winter and early spring.  A friend has suggested that at higher elevations the warmer temperatures have encouraged the growth of the mycorhizal fungus associated with these orchids.

At the same site we found a few stems of the Ozette Coralroot, Corallorhiza maculata var. ozettensis, an unspotted form and a recent discovery.  We had seen it at other sites on Whidbey Island but this was the first time we found it growing with the Western Coralroots.  We'll be visiting another site in the near future to photograph it there, a site where it grows in abundance.

Corallorhiza maculata var. ozettensis


  1. I noted, too, that the westerns were particularly scant at my usual place. I did capture one particularly pale pallida. I have never relocated the Ozette i found there

    1. Thanks, Marti. We found some Ozettes along the road years ago, but then they graded the sides of the road and we never saw them again. These were right among the westerns.