Western Coralroot – Corallorhiza mertensiana

Orchid Family – Orchidaceae

Actual flower size: 3/4 inch across

Actual flower size: 3/4 inch across

Western Coralroot is also called Merten’s Coralroot.

Plant Description: Western Coralroot is a perennial saprophyte. The stems are 6 to 20 inches tall and red to brownish purple with several clasping bracts in place of leaves and 7 to 30 flowers along the top half of the stem.

Flower Description:  The 5 upper tepals are all quite narrow, up to .75 inches long, and pink to red with dark red or yellow veins. The upper 3 are fused and stand nearly straight up. Two of the tepals spread out to the side. The lip is much broader, usually a deeper pink with 3 dark red veins, often white tipped, and has 2 small teeth at either side.  The fused stamen and styles form a tall, light-colored column.

Ecology: Western Coralroot grows in rich humus in moist to fairly dry coniferous forests at low to middle elevations


  • Western Coralroot is a saprophyte, feeding off decomposing forest litter and hence needs no chlorophyll or sunlight.  It is dependant on a complex group of fungi present in the soil.
  • This is probably the most common coralroot in this area. It is usually found in groups of several to many.
  • Shades of yellow and pink, and even white can be found.


Western Coralroot Photo Gallery

Photo information: #0057 was taken on July 13, 2001 on the Snow Lake Trail, I-90 exit 52, Snoqualmie Pass WA; #2993 was taken on June 1, 2002 on the Rattlesnake Ledge Trail, I-90 exit 32, North Bend WA; #4473 and #4479 were taken on July 13, 2002 on the Ollalie Lake Trail, I-90, North Bend, WA; #5748 was taken on Jue 15, 2006 on the Multnomah Falls Trail, I-84, Cascade Locks, OR.