...Notes from the Field


Native Orchids of Colorado: Yellow Coralroot (Corallorhiza trifida)

by | Aug 9, 2017

Last month I made a quick trip down to New Mexico and Colorado for a photography business trip and as I was coming over Independence Pass to the east of Aspen, I started spotting a lot of orchids on the side of the road. Because I had a free day or traveling set aside for nature photography, I hopped out of the car on the side of the road and two steps into the forest canopy I started seeing patches of yellow coralroot orchids everywhere! In total, I found about seven or eight species and I’ll be sharing them very soon here!

~ click on any image to enlarge ~

Yellow Coralroot (Corallorhiza trifida)

Yellow Coralroot (Corallorhiza trifida)

Also known as the early coralroot, the yellow coralroot is unusual compared to other members of the Corallorhiza genus in that it is the only one that produces its own chlorophyll like nearly all green plants (hence the yellowish-green color) and is only partly parasitic on the surrounding plants for its nourishment and nutritional needs. Found all around the Northern Hemisphere, these were found in an area with several colonies that were mostly finished blooming and starting to go to fruit just outside of Aspen, Colorado in the Rocky Mountains at about 8000-9000 feet in elevation. The curious thing about the ones in this area is that the labellum on each flower was pure white and the rest of the flower and stem was pure yellow.

Yellow Coralroot (Corallorhiza trifida)

Yellow Coralroot (Corallorhiza trifida)

Yellow Coralroot (Corallorhiza trifida)

Yellow Coralroot (Corallorhiza trifida)

Yellow Coralroot (Corallorhiza trifida)

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