Yet another week of not-spring has gone by…but I’m feeling optimistic. Looking very forward to sunshine-filled summer hiking trips and a possible sighting of this fascinating Alberta wildflower, striped coralroot (Corallorhiza striata). To find out why this plant isn’t green, check out a previous post I did about coralroots way back in 2013.
Enjoy your weekend! What projects are you working on (gardening or otherwise)?
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?