Friday, June 5, 2015

Eleventh Orchid of the Season and Others

The orchid featured in this post is not a separate species, but an unusual and unique variety of a species I've previous posted and so I am counting it as our eleventh orchid of the season.  It is a variety of the Western Spotted Coralroot known as the Ozette Coralroot, Corallorhiza maculata var. ozettensis.  There are several sites on Whidbey Island where it can be found but it was originally discovered on the Olympic Peninsula.  It is unique both for its coloring and its lack of spotting.

Corallorhiza maculata var. ozettensis

Along with it we found the Spotted Coralroot, Corallorhiza maculata var. maculata, near the end of its bloom season.  This variety is found across the United States and Canada, while the other two varieties are found only in the west.  Among the Spotted Coralroots we found, as we had previously, some spikes of a plant that has the coloration of the Ozette Coralroot, but also has spotting.  The coloration and the fact that these bloom with the Ozettes make me this it is a hybrid of the Ozette and the Spotted.

Corallorhiza maculata var. maculata

a possible hybrid of var. ozettensis and var. maculata

A couple of other observations and this first: all three varieties of the Spotted Coralroot grow in the same area, sometime among each other, but the bloom times are clearly successive, the Western Spotted Coralroot blooming first, the Spotted Coralroot after it, and the Ozette Coralroot as the Spotted are finishing their blooms.  These different bloom times are the principle reason for separating these varieties and the easiest way to distinguish them when they are growing in the same location.

Also, we have noticed that the native orchids and especially the Coralroots are very sparse this year at lower elevations, especially near sea level.  This may be due to a very warm winter with little snowfall and an early and warm spring.  What is especially striking, however, is that at higher elevations the native orchids appear to be more abundant, something a friend has also ascribed to the warm winter.  She believes that the warmer temperatures in the mountains have promoted the growth of the mycorhyzal fungus on which these orchids depend.


  1. Wonderful pictures of this beauty. Here is a species of the genus Corallorhiza trifida, but it is very difficult to find and yet not I've ever seen in the field

    1. We have a number of Coralroots and C. trifida is among them. There is a large patch of them in the North Cascades, but I have not been able to get up to see them this year.