This section is from the book "An Illustrated Flora Of The Northern United States, Canada And The British Possessions Vol1", by Nathaniel Lord Britton, Addison Brown. Also available from Amazon: An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 Volume Set..
Scapose, yellowish or purplish herbs, saprophytes or root-parasites, with large masses of coralloid branching rootstocks, the leaves all reduced to sheathing scales. Flowers in terminal racemes. Sepals nearly equal, the lateral ones united at the base with the foot of the column, forming a short spur or gibbous protuberance, the other one free, the spur adnate to the summit of the ovary. Petals about as long as the sepals, 1-3-nerved. Lip 1-3-ridged. Column nearly free, slightly incurved, somewhat 2-winged. Anther terminal, operculate. Pollinia 4, in 2 pairs, oblique, free, soft-waxy. [Greek, from the coral-like roots.]
About 15 species, widely distributed in the north temperate zone. Besides the following, some 4 others occur in southern and western North America. Type species: Corallorrhiza trifida Chatelain.
Lateral lobes of lip very small; spur a small protuberance.
Lateral lobes of lip large; spur prominent.
Lip not lobed, entire, notched or undulate.
Perianth 3"-6" long; spur evident, sometimes small.
Lip long-clawed, notched.
Lip short-clawed or sessile, not notched.
Perianth about 2" long; lip spotted.
Perianth 5"-6" long; lip not spotted.
Perianth 8"-9" long; no spur.
Ophrys Corallorrhiza L. Sp. PI. 945. 1753.
C. trifida Chatelain, Spec. Inaug. 8. 1760.
C. Neottia Scop. Fl. Cam. Ed. 2, 2: 207. 1772.
C. Corallorrhiza Karst. Deutsch. Fl. 448. 1880-83.
Scape glabrous, 4'-12' high, clothed with 2-5 closely sheathing scales. Raceme 1-3' long, 3-12-flowered; flowers mainly dull purple, on very short minutely bracted pedicels; sepals and petals narrow, about 3" long; lip shorter than the petals, oblong, whitish, 2-toothed or 2-lobed above the base; spur, a sac or small protuberance adnate to the summit of the ovary; capsule 4"-6" long, oblong or somewhat obovoid.
In woods, Newfoundland to Alaska, south to New Jersey, in the mountains to Georgia, and to Ohio, Nebraska and Colorado. Ascends to 3000 ft. in Vermont. Also in Europe. May-June.