Corallorhiza maculata - Spotted Coralroot

Spotted coralroot is an herbaceous, perennial wildflower with a broad distribution across the United States except for the lower Mississippi River and the state of Florida. Spotted coralroot is the most widely distributed species in the genus Corallorhiza. Spotted coralroot occurs occasionally as a single above ground flowering scape or as numerous scapes from a clone.

Corallorhiza wisteriana roots with fungus.
Corallorhiza maculata var. flavida. Photo by Charles Peirce.

USDA NRCS PLANTS Database range map for the species.
Corallorhiza maculata range map. USDA PLANTS Database.

Corallorhiza maculata (Corallorhiza – corallion – coral and rhiza – root; coralroot; – refers to the underground stems, rhizomes, appearing like an ocean coral and maculata – spotted; refers to its prominently spotted lip (labellum).

Corallorhiza maculata
Corallorhiza maculata var. flavida. Photo by Charles Peirce.

Corallorhiza maculata
Corallorhiza maculata. Photo by Danny Shimmon.

Corallorhiza maculata attains a height of 10 to 60 centimeters. The yellowish-brown to reddish-brown and reddish-purple scape emerges from a small coral-shaped rhizome. The leaves are reduced to sheaths surrounding a simple scape (stalk of the inflorescence), yellow-green (sometimes green), yellowish-tan to reddish purple and in some plants an extremely dark-purple bordering on “black.” The inflorescence is a lax to dense raceme of few to numerous flowers. The three sepals and two lateral petals are generally spreading to slightly recurved. The flowers are variously colored, usually reddish to purplish or pure yellow-green, with the petals commonly spotted with purple, the lip is generally white with reddish-purple spots; occasionally there are plants with flowers where the lips are white without the purple spots. The fruit is a capsule.

Corallorhiza maculata
Corallorhiza maculata. Photo by Steve Matson.

Corallorhiza maculata
Corallorhiza maculata. Photo by Charles Peirce.

Corallorhiza maculata
Corallorhiza maculata. Photo by Charles Peirce.

Corallorhiza maculata
Corallorhiza maculata. Photo by John W. Wall.

Corallorhiza maculata
Corallorhiza maculata. Photo by Lorne Heshka.

Corallorhiza maculata
Corallorhiza maculata. Photo by Barry Breckling.

Corallorhiza maculata flowers from spring to midsummer. The species occurs in a broad array of coniferous to deciduous forest habitats where there is little other herbaceous cover.

Corallorhiza maculata
Corallorhiza maculata. Photo by Tom Nelson.

Corallorhiza maculata
Corallorhiza maculata. Photo by Barry Rice.

Special note: Yellow-green to green color variants of Corallorhiza maculata are occasionally mis-identified as Corallorhiza trifida where their ranges overlap.

Corallorhiza maculata
Corallorhiza maculata. Photo by Tom Nelson.

Corallorhiza maculata
Corallorhiza maculata. Photo by Hugh Nourse.

Corallorhiza mertenisana