Corallorhiza odontorhiza (Autumn Coralroot)
|Also known as:||Late Coralroot|
|Habitat:||part shade, shade; woods|
|Bloom season:||August - October|
|Plant height:||5 to 8 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||none|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Erect raceme of 7 to 16 tiny, non-descript nodding flowers about 1/8 inch long, on a short flower stalk. The ovary is predominant, greenish to yellow, about ¼ inch long. Petals and sepals are whitish at the base with brown purpling at tips, though white lower lip may fold slightly outward. The flowers of Minnesota's variety do not open and self pollinate within flower (cleistogamous) though the eastern variety does open and pollinates sexually (chasmogamous).
Leaves and stem:
Perhaps a child only a mother autumn coral-root could appreciate, or those enthralled by the secrets of our native orchids. While early records are infrequent, this species could be just expanding its range westward into Minnesota, or its diminuative stature and late blooming date may have it too commonly passed over. The population in these photos has established itself since the late 1990s. There are 2 recognized varieties of C. odontorhiza: var. pringlei, the eastern species not known to be in Minnesota but recorded in Wisconsin and Iowa has flowers that open fully and resemble those of other coralroot species, and var. odontorhiza, with the flowers described here.
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Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk, taken on a private residence in Washington County that was formly a production nursery field
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?