Spotted Coral Root Orchid (Corallorhizea maculata) is a saprophyte, a plant that roots in dead material, symbiotically sharing its substrate with fungi. “Coral root” refers to the stubby roots looking like branched coral (Gadd 302).
Coral roots are sometimes referred to as ‘chicken-toes’ (Parish 282).
Saprophytes cannot be cultivated. Because of their dependency on decaying matter, coral roots will grow wherever dead material happens to be. In other words, this plant may be “abundant in one part of the forest floor one year and completely absent the next year” (Parish 282).
The term ‘spotted’ (maculate) refers to the spots seen on the flowers (Parish 283). Another distinctive feature is the lack of any green parts (leaves).
- Gadd, Ben. Handbook of the Canadian Rockies
- Parish, Coupé, Lloyd. Plants of Southern Interior B.C.