Striped coralroot.

Coral rootFP

I’m spring cleaning!

Well, sort of.

While it doesn’t actually involve soap and water, I’m in the midst of a good, thorough scrub of my computer and all of its files. (It’s waaayyyy more fun than washing the kitchen walls!).   😉

While reorganizing my photo folders from last year, I came across a couple of images of striped coralroot (Corallorhiza striata).  My hubby and I found these specimens while hiking on the Douglas Fir Trail in northwest Calgary in July. I wish I had done a good macro of one of the flowers – but alas. Still, this view gives you a good idea of how many blooms a single plant can sport at once.

Coralroot is a member of the orchid family, with underground rhizomatous stems that resemble coral. (“Root” is a misnomer). Coralroot is a non-photosynthetic (heterotrophic) plant, and its leaves are little more than scales affixed to the stems. Instead of manufacturing its own food, coralroot is saprophytic – plants obtain nourishment from dead leaf matter, and are assisted by the mycorrhizae bacteria in the soil.

Three types of coralroot grow in Alberta.  The two I haven’t found yet are pale coralroot (C. trifida) and spotted coralroot (C. maculata).  Pale coralroot isn’t the characteristic pink/purple colour of the other two – apparently it is yellow-green, which may be an indicator that it can perform photosynthesis to some degree.

For more information about the symbiotic nature of terrestrial orchids and descriptions of the types of coralroot found in Alberta, click here.

What types of orchids grow wild where you live?  Do you keep cultivated orchids as houseplants?


    • What an absolutely beautiful flower! Your photos are gorgeous! I wonder if I had perhaps not “babied” my orchid so much, if it would have survived…I think I imagined it was a difficult plant to grow, so it ended up that way! 😉 Your approach is obviously the right one! 🙂

      • All I did was have it on the window sill of my kitchen with east light and watered it only on occasion.

        I sometimes wonder if certain houses just grow plants better; the original part of our house is 1946…maybe the secret is the drafts. LOL! I tend to get everyones half dead plants and they come back to life here and thrive…and I seriously do nothing more than the odd watering.

  1. I had no idea these could grow here. I’ll need to keep a watch out. I wonder if they can be transplanted from the wild to a backyard garden since I don’t think I’ve ever seen them in a garden centre. Very pretty.

    • I think they would be very difficult to transplant, due to the type of “root” system they have and their special nutrient requirements. I doubt they would survive regular garden conditions.

      Hope you’re doing alright with all this bad weather! I heard you received a huge amount of snow there – I think it’s coming our way…. 😦

      • I briefly drove out for cat food today and it was miserable not to mention Edmontonians refuse to drive for the conditions. I was tailgated and cutoff over and over…I’m buying a tank 😀 Over 100 reported accidents today and I’m surprised there weren’t more. I went for a nail appt tonight and just walked buy it was freezing. -24C with the wind 😦 batten down the hatches.

        • Oh my goodness…I know, it’s the same here when the weather is bad – it’s as if the drivers forget from time to time! 😦 You’re right, a tank would be ideal! The weather warnings are still in effect here, too, but the sky was blue and the sun was shining this afternoon. Bad wind chill, though.

    • Thanks so much for posting the links – those are gorgeous orchids, especially the Orchis mascula! I believe I read we have 27 different types of wild orchids in Alberta, but many are quite rare. The one I’ve seen fairly often is the yellow lady’s slipper, Cypripedium colceolus. Do you have that one in Germany? I’m going to try to make it a mission to hunt for different orchids as I’m out hiking – it will be interesting to see how many I can find.

  2. I have tried to keep an orchid in the house, but the closest I have is one that is not real. It is a pain to dust, but it is the closest I have ever gotten, yet. I would love to have a beautiful real one to look at as I love their beauty.

    • I had a phalaenopsis orchid for about six months before I killed it; as they’re considered the easiest ones to grow, I guess I have to consider myself a failure with them. 😦 I think a fake one is the best I can do as well!

      Hope you’re all doing well! Take it easy in this snowy weather!

  3. I just found striped coral root in the woods on our acreage, NE of Airdrie. I’ve looked back at photos I have taken here since 1991, and this is the first time I have ever seen this flower! I can’t wait to post it on my blog!
    I’ll also have to go out to see if the yellow Lady’s Slipper is still growing in the ditch up the road. (

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