Corallorhiza maculata

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Spotted coralroot
Corallorhiza maculata 10222.JPG
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Orchidaceae
Subfamily: Epidendroideae
Tribe: Maxillarieae
Subtribe: Corallorhizinae
Genus: Corallorhiza
Species: C. maculata
Binomial name
Corallorhiza maculata
  • Cladorhiza maculata (Raf.) Raf.
  • Corallorhiza multiflora Nutt.
  • Neottia multiflora (Nutt.) Kuntze

Corallorhiza maculata, or spotted coralroot, is a North American coralroot orchid flower.[3] Varieties are also known as western coralroot and summer coralroot. It is widespread through Mexico, Guatemala, Canada, St. Pierre & Miquelon, and much of the Western and northern United States (though generally absent from the Great Plains and from the lowland parts of the Southeast). It grows mostly in montane woodlands.[1][4][5]


The Corallorhiza maculata side petals are reddish, and the lip petal is bright clean white with deep red spots.

Corallorhiza maculata is a myco-heterotroph; it lacks chlorophyll and gets food by parasitizing the mycelium of fungi in the family Russulaceae. The rhizome and lower stem are often knotted into branched coral shapes. The stem is usually red or brown in color, but occasionally comes in a light yellow or cream color. There are no leaves and no photosynthetic green tissues. The stems bear dark red scales and intricate orchid flowers.

Corallorhiza maculata flowers are small and emerge regularly from all sides of the stem. The sepals are dark red or brown tinged with purple, long and pointed. The side petals are reddish, and the lip petal is bright clean white with deep red spots. It is usually lobed or toothed on the side and 7–10 mm. In some varieties, the lip is plain white without spots.


Several Native American groups historically used the orchid's stems dried and brewed as a tea for such maladies as colds, pneumonia, and skin irritation.

Corallorhiza maculata is also the topic of the poem On Going Unnoticed by Robert Frost.


Further reading[edit]

  • Taylor, D.L. & T.D. Bruns. (1997). Independent, specialized invasions of ectomycorrhizal mutualism by two nonphotosynthetic orchids. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA vol. 94 pp. 4510–4515.

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