Corallorhiza striata plants in flower Don Leopold

Corallorhiza striata plants in flower
Don Leopold

Class
Monocotyledoneae (Monocots)
Family
Orchidaceae (Orchid Family)
State Protection
Endangered
Listed as Endangered by New York State: in imminent danger of extirpation in New York. For animals, taking, importation, transportation, or possession is prohibited, except under license or permit. For plants, removal or damage without the consent of the landowner is prohibited.
Federal Protection
Not Listed
State Conservation Status Rank
S1
Critically Imperiled in New York - Especially vulnerable to disappearing from New York due to extreme rarity or other factors; typically 5 or fewer populations or locations in New York, very few individuals, very restricted range, very few remaining acres (or miles of stream), and/or very steep declines.
Global Conservation Status Rank
G5T5
Secure globally - Both the species as a whole and the subspecies/variety are common in the world; widespread and abundant (but may be rare in some parts of its range).

Summary

Did you know?

These orchids are almost totally devoid of chlorophyll and are dependent on fungi infecting their roots to gather nutrients from the surrounding organic matter. The jointed, coral-shaped roots gives this group of orchids their name. The alternate name fever root comes from its use in herbal medicine to reduce fever.

State Ranking Justification

Currently, there is only one known population and three historical populations. This plant has always been rare in New York. While this is one of the more showy coral-root species, limited surveys in wetland habitats and a short flowering period may indicate that this species is somewhat overlooked.

Short-term Trends

The population size of the one known occurrence has fluctuated between zero and 16 plants. This is a plant that seems to survive at very low levels and not much is known about how it responds to its environment. Since the population is fairly isolated we do not expect major changes in the population in the near future.

Long-term Trends

This orchid was only ever known from four locations in the state. The historical locations are vague enough that we don't know if they still survive and searching for it is very difficult. Therefore it is unknown at this time whether it has declined or increased in size. We don't expect a large increase in numbers over time.

Conservation and Management

Threats

These plants are isolated but since they are the only occurrence in the state there is always a risk that researchers and photographers may trample plants while they are being studied and photographed.

Conservation Strategies and Management Practices

Visits to the population need to be limited so disturbance is minimized.

Research Needs

Studies that determine what influences popualtion size would create a better understanding of this plant biology and may lead to management activities that will result in larger populations. We would also like to know how this plant responds to its environment and the best places to search in a large wetland environment.

Habitat

Habitat

This orchid is limited to cedar swamps and possibly beech woods directly along Lake Ontario (New York Natural Heritage Program 2005). Coniferous, deciduous, and mixed woods, lakeshores, swamps (Flora of North America 2002). Woods (Gleason and Cronquist 1991). Coniferous and mixed woods and swamps, especially cedar thickets, often associated with limestone; also in beech-maple woods (Voss 1972). Calcareous or rich woods (Fernald 1970).

Associated Ecological Communities

  • Beech-maple mesic forest* (guide)
    A hardwood forest with sugar maple and American beech codominant. This is a broadly defined community type with several variants. These forests occur on moist, well-drained, usually acid soils. Common associates are yellow birch, white ash, hop hornbeam, and red maple. * probable association but not confirmed.
  • Northern white cedar swamp (guide)
    A swamp that occurs on organic soils in cool, poorly drained depressions in central and northern New York, and along lakes and streams in the northern half of the state. These swamps are often spring-fed with continually saturated soils. Soils are often rich in calcium. The characteristic tree is northern white cedar, which makes up more than 30% of the canopy cover.
  • Rich hemlock-hardwood peat swamp* (guide)
    A swamp that occurs in central New York in depressions or concave slopes which receive groundwater discharge. These swamps usually have a fairly open canopy (50 to 70% cover), scattered shrubs, and a diverse groundlayer with sedges, mosses, and forbs. The characteristic canopy trees are eastern hemlock (which usually have at least 20% cover), red maple, yellow birch, black ash, tamarack, white pine, smooth serviceberry, balsam fir, and northern white cedar. * probable association but not confirmed.

Associated Species

  • Abies balsamea (balsam fir)
  • Coptis trifolia (gold-thread)
  • Fagus grandifolia (American beech)
  • Fraxinus nigra (black ash)
  • Oxalis montana (northern wood sorrel)
  • Thuja occidentalis (northern white cedar, arbor vitae)
  • Tsuga canadensis (eastern hemlock)

Range

New York State Distribution

This plant is limited to central New York and the western foothills of the Adirondacks. New York is at the southern edge of this species northeastern distribution. Further west it ranges south into Texas and Baja California

Global Distribution

The main range of this species in the northwestern US and southwestern Canada. The full range extends from Labrador through southern Canada and the northern US west to Montana, at which point the range then extends south to Wyoming, New Mexico, and Texas and west to Baja California, California, and British Columbia.

Identification Comments

General Description

Coralroot is one of our most striking and beautiful orchids. It has an erect red to reddish purple, succulent stem with 3-4 slightly loose and paler sheaths around the base. The inflorescence is half the length of the plant and contains 10-25, dime-sized, drooping flowers with distinctive light pink, translucent petals with red striped veins. The red lip is tongue-shaped with three darker red veins. It droops down with the petals forming an umbrella above.

Identifying Characteristics

This orchid may grow to a half-meter tall. The stem and sheaths are stoutish and a dull purple or magenta color. The flowering portion may be as long as 20 cm. This is one of the larger flowered coral-root species, with purplish flowers up to 2 cm long. The sepals and petals are purple-veined (darker than the surrounding tissue) and with 3-5 purple stripes. The lip is tongue-shaped, unlobed, and a madder-purple color. This lip is only striped near the base, about as long as the other petals, and abruptly drooping forward. The capsules are 1.5-2 cm long.

Best Life Stage for Proper Identification

Flowers are really needed to properly identify this plant. Due to its rarity and typically small population size within New York, only photos should be taken. These photos show the entire plant with stem and close-ups of the flower, including something in the image to scale the size of the flowers and stem.

Similar Species

The sepal and petal of Corallorhiza odontorhiza is smaller (3-7.5 mm) and not striped. This plant flowers late summer to fall. The lip of Corallorhiza trida and Corallorhiza maculata is 3-lobed or with a prominent lateral tooth on each margin.

Best Time to See

This orchid flowers late May to late June, although the peak blooming period seems to be mid-June. Surveys should be conducted during this flowering period.

  • Vegetative
  • Flowering
  • Fruiting

The time of year you would expect to find Striped Coralroot vegetative, flowering, and fruiting in New York.

Striped Coralroot Images

Taxonomy

Striped Coralroot
Corallorhiza striata var. striata None

  • Kingdom Plantae
    • Phylum Anthophyta
      • Class Monocotyledoneae (Monocots)
        • Order Orchidales
          • Family Orchidaceae (Orchid Family)

Additional Common Names

  • Fever Root
  • Striped Coral-root

Synonyms

  • Corallorhiza macraei A. Gray

Comments on the Classification

Many references do not list any varieties. We recognize this variety to distinguish from var. vreelandii, a taxon mainly restricted to the western US.

Additional Resources

Best Identification Reference

Flora of North America Editorial Committee. 2002. Flora of North America, North of Mexico. Volume 26. Magnoliophyta: Liliidae: Liliales and Orchidales. Oxford University Press, New York. 723 pp.

Other References

Fernald, M.L. 1950. Gray's manual of botany. 8th edition. D. Van Nostrand, New York. 1632 pp.

Gleason, Henry A. and A. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York. 910 pp.

Holmgren, Noel. 1998. The Illustrated Companion to Gleason and Cronquist's Manual. Illustrations of the Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York.

New York Natural Heritage Program. 2010. Biotics database. New York Natural Heritage Program. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Albany, NY.

New York Natural Heritage Program. 2019. New York Natural Heritage Program Databases. Albany, NY.

Reschke, Carol. 1990. Ecological communities of New York State. New York Natural Heritage Program, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Latham, NY. 96 pp. plus xi.

Voss, E.G. 1972. Michigan Flora, Part I. Gymnosperms and Monocots. Cranbrook Institute of Science Bulletin 55 and the University of Michigan Herbarium. Ann Arbor. 488 pp.

Weldy, T. and D. Werier. 2010. New York flora atlas. [S.M. Landry, K.N. Campbell, and L.D. Mabe (original application development), Florida Center for Community Design and Research http://www.fccdr.usf.edu/. University of South Florida http://www.usf.edu/]. New York Flora Association http://newyork.plantatlas.usf.edu/, Albany, New York

Links

About This Guide

Information for this guide was last updated on: August 28, 2019

Please cite this page as:
New York Natural Heritage Program. 2019. Online Conservation Guide for Corallorhiza striata var. striata. Available from: https://guides.nynhp.org/striped-coralroot/. Accessed November 16, 2019.

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