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Common Name: Autumn Coralroot
Corallorhiza odontorhiza is a perennial plant that can grow up to 0.35 metres tall.
It is harvested from the wild for local use as a medicine..
Eastern N. America - S.W. Maine to Minnesota and southwards.
Rich woods, parasitic on the roots of trees[
]. Dry woodland[
]. Rich deciduous woods, mixed woods, and conifer plantations at elevations of 0 - 2800 metres[
We have very little information on this species and do not know if it will be hardy in Britain, though judging by its native range it should succeed outdoors in many parts of this country. It is a parasitic plant, growing at the roots of trees[
]. We would suggest that it is best grown in a humus rich soil in light woodland[
Orchids are, in general, shallow-rooting plants of well-drained low-fertility soils. Their symbiotic relationship with a fungus in the soil allows them to obtain sufficient nutrients and be able to compete successfully with other plants. They are very sensitive to the addition of fertilizers or fungicides since these can harm the symbiotic fungus and thus kill the orchid[
The root is diaphoretic, febrifuge and sedative[
]. It is one of the most certain, quick and powerful diaphoretics, but it is a scarce plant and therefore a very expensive medicine to obtain[
Seed - we have no information on this species but, like all members of the orchid family, the seed of this species is extremely simple, it has a minute embryo surrounded by a single layer of protective cells. It contains very little food reserves and depends upon a symbiotic relationship with a species of soil-dwelling fungus. The fungal hyphae invade the seed and enter the cells of the embryo. The orchid soon begins to digest the fungal tissue and this acts as a food supply for the plant until it is able to obtain nutrients from decaying material in the soil[
]. Surface sow the seed, preferably as soon as it is ripe, in the greenhouse and do not allow the compost to dry out. It is best to use some of the soil that is growing around established plants in order to introduce the fungus, or to sow the seed around a plant of the same species and allow the seedlings to grow on until they are large enough to move.
Division in autumn. Make sure that you keep plenty of soil with each plant. It is also said to be possible to transplant orchids after they have flowered but whilst they are still in leaf. Grow on for at least the first year before potting up and do not plant out until the plants are 2 - 4 years old.
Division of offsets.