Our last orchid of the season is in bloom now. This is Late Coralroot Corallorhiza odontorhiza. This very nice specimen I photographed on the way up to the prairie. (That’s on the non-public side of the preserve.)
There are several coralroot orchids and they get their name from having roots that look like coral. Out of all the orchids we have at Wahkeena I think this one would be the hardest to appreciate. It is only a few inches tall, and the flowers are so tiny. However, it’s a neat plant. This is a saprophyte. That means that is does not make its own food. It gets its nutrients from the decaying plant matter in the soil. There are about a dozen in bloom along the shelter trail and several in the parking lot area. The former being a little more advanced with their blooms. Just let us know when you sign in if you want to see them, we can direct you to their locales!
So, is that it for orchids until the spring? I think not! Fall and winter are the best times to scope out locations for next year’s orchid hunts! Several orchids like Puttyroot and Cranefly only have leaves during these two seasons. This is the time to note their locations and likely blooms because when they are in flower, they are hard to spot! also, many orchids are still sporting their flower stalks and seed pods. Again, this makes it easier to find them the next year when there are so many other plants competing for your attention.