Crested Coral-root Orchid

By William T. Hathaway

Crested Coral-root Orchid (Hexalectris spicata)

During a so-called hot spell in the middle of July I discovered an unusual wild orchid. I was hiking on a rocky hillside and mingling with chiggers, ticks and spider webs — all being locally inherent during summer months. Such sweaty ramblings were necessary if one hoped to discover that which was unusual in the fascinating realm of nature study.

The Crested Coral-root (Hexalectris spicata) was a native orchid whose leaves were scale-like bracts scattered along the madder-purple stem; this saprophyte had no need for normal leaves, since it obtains its nutrients from fungi and organic soils.

Although the total plant was somewhat insignificant, I couldn't resist taking a close-up picture of an individual flower with the blue background of my jacket.

(See also additional illustrations of the Crested Coral-Root Orchid; and an index of other orchids.)