Montana Outdoors

June 4, 2011

Orchids and shrooms

Filed under: Wildflowers — Tags: , , , — montucky @ 9:47 pm

While hiking on a favorite trail yesterday afternoon, I was delighted to encounter a plant that was interesting and brand new to me. I photographed it and later was able to identify it as Striped Coralroot, a saprophytic orchid, Corallorhiza striata.

Coralroots acquire their nutrients from decaying organic matter and lack the chlorophyll used by most plants for food production. Because of their dependency on decaying matter, they may be relatively abundant in one part of the forest one year and completely absent the next.

The Striped Coralroot has tall, shiny stems with a purplish tinge and somewhat pink flowers with 3 purplish stripes on each sepal. Of course, lacking chlorophyll, they also lack any green parts.

Striped Coralroot

Striped Coralroot

Striped Coralroot

Along the trail and not far from the Coralroots a mushroom was visible, one of the very few that I feel comfortable about identifying; a Morel, Morchella elata. Grouped into small areas along a few more miles of trail were more Morels and I brought a little over two pounds of them home. They are delicious, and a quick bit of research found that they are also expensive to buy these days; a recent price showed up at $155 a pound!


It was a pretty good afternoon!

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