Corallorhiza trifida (Early Coralroot)

Plant Info
Also known as: Spring Coralroot, Yellow Coralroot, Northern Coralroot
Genus:Corallorhiza
Family:Orchidaceae (Orchid)
Life cycle:perennial
Origin:native
Habitat:part shade, shade; swamps, bogs, thickets, upland forests
Bloom season:May - June
Plant height:5 to 14 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FAC MW: FACW NCNE: FACW
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: irregular Cluster type: raceme

[photo of flowers] Erect raceme of 4 to 19 flowers each about 3/8 inch across, with a short ovary and flower stalk. 3 petals and 2 lateral sepals are similarly colored - pale green/yellows, sometimes purple brown at outer tips, elongated, narrowing to a more rounded point. The sepals are slightly longer and narrower than the petals; petals are held close above nearly overlapping over flower column.

[photo of spotted lower lip] The lower lip is all white or sometimes sparingly speckled into throat, broader and wavy, curling underand back in at tip. 

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: simple

[photo of stems] Leaves are reduced to overlapping sheathes from the base. Smooth throughout, stem color is variations of green/yellow, with similar colored leaves. Stems are unbranched, single to multiple clusters.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

Fruit is a dangling capsule about ½ inch long.

Notes:

The coral-roots provide the longest and most contiguous discovery season for wildflower seekers with spring coral-root as early as autumn coral-root is late. While still small, the lightly colored C. trifida stands out starkly against the rich muted earth tones of decaying vegetation from the previous season and larger clumps can be spotted at great distance. Expect it to appear anywhere throughout its fairly extensive range.

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More photos

Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk, taken at numerous locations on state lands in Aitkin, Anoka, Beltrami and Cass Counties

Comments

Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Susan - Longville, Minnesota (north central MN)
on: 2011-06-08 20:45:36

Cluster of three plants growing in a mixed coniferous-deciduous forest edge near Little Boy Lake. Stems 3-4" long. Blooming June 5, 2011.

Posted by: Nancy C - Eastern Becker County, MN
on: 2017-07-12 14:41:33

I would like to send a photo for verification. The specimen I found had pale yellow flowers and stems.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2017-07-12 16:33:01

Nancy, what is it about your specimen that makes you question it's early coralroot? Keep in mind that many plants come in a range of colors and this species is no exception. You can always post an image on our Facbook page.

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