Sep 06 2014
It sounds really exotic to say that there are orchids at Moraine State Park, but yes there are. Last weekend Dianne and Bob Machesney found late coralroot (Corallorhiza odontorhiza) including this very unusual pink one.
Late coralroot’s 1/4 inch flowers bloom from August to October so now’s the time to look for them. Unfortunately the plant is often hard to see because it’s only 4-7 inches tall and a brownish-purple color that matches the forest floor. But not this one. I have no idea why it’s pink but it’s certainly pretty. Click here to see what it looks like when it blooms in normal color.
Coralroots are very picky about habitat because they’re twice-dependent. They are saprophytes that get their nutrients from fungi which are getting their nutrients from dead and decomposing plant material. Coralroots are particular about the species of fungi they parasitize so you can’t find these orchids just anywhere. Your best bet may be to look where there are pine needles on the ground.
Thanks to Dianne for this unusual photo and her description of the plant. Now I know what to look for.
p.s. It should go without saying that you should not collect these plants. They are endangered in many northeastern states and in Florida.
(photo of unusual Late Coralroot by Dianne Machesney)