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Coralroot Orchid
Corallorhiza trifida

Classified as Vulnerable in Britain, where it is confined to northern England and Scotland, Coralroot Orchid is tiny and inconspicuous and therefore difficult to spot. The plant lacks leaves (it has a few scale-like sheaths on the stem) and is entirely dependent on a relationship with fungi during its life. Corallorhiza trifida grows in moist but not overly wet habitats and is tolerant of various light conditions from dark woodland to lightly shaded or open sunny positions. It is most commonly associated with willow and alder carr (occasionally birch and pine trees) with which the fungi it depends upon forms mycorrhizal relationships. In North America several species of Corallorhiza orchids are found in pine woodland. Corallorhiza trifida flowers from May to August. On mainland Europe this orchid occurs widely in the north, and its range extends southwards to France and Corsica. Both the English common name and the scientific name refer to the appearance of the rhizome, which is said to resemble coral.

Distribution Map Key Features
distribution map

Records for the Coralroot Orchid from BSBI are shown on the map with most recent in front. (Hover the mouse over the small map to expand it.)

CLICK HERE to visit the BSBI website page for updated data and maps with separated data for individual record periods.

Plant: 5 to 30cm in height but usually 10 to 15cm; stem yellowish-green in woodland conditions but sometimes burnished purple is more open positions including sand dunes.
Leaves: no green leaves but a few brown, white or green sheathing scales are found along the stem.
Bracts: green, tiny and triangular.
Flowers: up to 13, angled outwards from the stem in a lax inflorescence. The petals and sepals are strap shaped, greenish yellow often with brown markings. The upper sepal and petals form a loose hood over the lip and the lateral sepals droop forwards on either side of the lip. The lip, which is white with red markings and has a somewhat 'ruffled' edge, is broader and shorter than the sepals and petals. The flowers are reported to have a slight musky scent.

Image Gallery for Coralroot Orchid Corallorhiza trifida

Pollination Taxonomy & Hybrids

Possibly pollinated by small insects, but self pollination is more common.

The specific name trifida means 'split into three' and is said to refer to the lip of the flower, although it is barely tri-lobed.

Articles about Coralroot Orchid in JHOS