Stems stout or slender, 8 to 20 inches high, with a large mass of corallike branching rootstocks, the stem purplish, clothed with several appressed scales, devoid of green leaves or green color. Flowers ten to thirty, forming a terminal raceme 2 to 8 inches long, purplish brown; sepals and petals linear-lanceolate, about one-fourth of an inch long; lip white, spotted and lined with crimson, oval or ovate in outline, deeply three-lobed, crenulate; spur yellowish. Fruiting capsules ovoid or oblong, one-half to two-thirds of an inch long and drooping.
Figure VIII Flowers of Large Round-leaved Orchis (Lysias orbiculata (Pursh) Rydberg), left; and Large Coralroot (Corallorrhiza maculata Rafinesque) at right
In woods, Nova Scotia to British Columbia, south to Florida, Missouri, New Mexico and California. Flowering from July to September.
The Early Coralroot (Corallorrhiza corallorrhiza (Linnaeus) Karsten) blooms in May and June. It has smaller flowers of a dull-purple color; sepals and petals about one-fourth of an inch long and a whitish, oblong lip; spur reduced to a small protuberance adnate to the summit of the ovary. Common in moist woods.
The Small or Late Coralroot (Corallorrhiza odontorhiza (Willdenow) Nuttall) blooms from July to September. It is 6 to 15 inches high and very slender. Flowers purplish; sepals and petals about one-sixth of an inch long or less, marked with purple lines; lip entire or denticulate, whitish, spotted with purple. A rather rare plant of moist woods. All the species of Coralroot are devoid of green leaves or green coloring matter in the stems, because of their parasitic or saprophytic habit.