In June this summer, I went to the Brokenhead Wetland Ecological trail (one of my favourite places) in search of Spotted Coral Root (Corallorhiza maculata) and met with great success. At a place where I had never seen these little gems before, right near the beginning of the trail I found a great plant. Not only that but the flowers were right beside the trail, before the boardwalk even began, so I did not have to succumb to temptation and go off the trail, which we are urged never to do. As my mother taught me, it is always best not to expose myself to temptation. She knew me. Today there was no issue as they were right where I needed them to photograph them.
Today there was no issue they were right where I needed them to photograph them. These are very unusual flowers since they belong to the Genus Corallorhiza or Coral-roots. These flowers are mycoheterotrophs which means they are not able to produce chlorophyll and hence must obtain their nutrition from other plants by way of specific mycorrhizal fungi in the soil. Orchids often have a mutualist relationship with fungi and this is one orchid genus that has that. These orchids spend most of their time underground and appear above ground only briefly, since in the absence of chlorophyll they don’t require sunlight which they are not able to use to produce food . The only “leaves” they have are actually scales. That means they have no green on their bodies at all. So instead of producing sugar as food, as most plants do from sunlight, they have a special relationship with these fungi who supply food to them. Sort of like the relationship we have with our mothers.
These are very small orchids and I can only photograph the tiny but beautiful flowers with a macro (close-up) lens. Even then, it is impossible to get more than one flower in focus at one time. Yet, I think it is worth the effort to catch these gems and this was probably the best opportunity to capture them on camera I have ever had. The word “maculata” is Latin for spotted. It is not immaculate in other words. Which is fine with me. I prefer spots and have no longing for the immaculate.
Since I am a wild flower guy and not just an orchid guy, I also paid attention to other beauties namely, Smooth Fleabane (Erigeron glabellus). Though common these flowers certainly merit some attention too.
These flowers have a lovely flower head of ray flowers (the bigger outer flowers) that range in colour from near white, to blue, and purple. The much smaller inner disk flowers are yellow. I find the combination of the two stunning.
The name Erigeron come from the Greek word “eri” which means early and “geron” which means ‘old man.’ These flowers appear fairly early in the year and then produce fluffy grey seed clusters, hence its name. I find it appropriate that I like this flower as I was prematurely grey and now am sadly bald. Life is hard.
With two lovely flowers like these and a few others I have not included in this post, I must say it was a great day. My mother would have quoted her favourite Bible verse, “This is the day the lord has made.” And I would have agreed with her.