Orchids On The Goshawk Ridge

When I think of orchids I think of exotic tropical settings. Who knew that we have orchids (as well as hummingbirds and waterfalls) right here in Boulder?

While taking a wildflower hike on the Goshawk Ridge Trail  last week I learned about the curious case of  Coral-root orchids. Deep in a pine forest we came upon a small reddish brown stalk which upon closer inspection looked like this:Coral-root orchid-1

This tiny orchid (Corallorhiza maculata) owes its existence to a lifelong relationship with a fungus that lives in its roots and looks like coral. This frees it from the need for chlorophyll and sunlight because it absorbs carbohydrates and minerals from its fungal partner, which in turn absorbs these vital nutrients from the roots of nearby trees. More about this type of relationship can be found at Fungus Flowers. Evolution rocks!

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5 Responses to “Orchids On The Goshawk Ridge”

  1. Bill Ashworth Says:

    Great photo, Rich. But isn’t that “coral-loving” and not “coral-looking” in the second line?

    Bill

    • richwolf Says:

      Bill,
      The name comes from the way the root fungus looks. I’m not sure about the orchid’s love life (-;
      Rich

  2. Ruckus on the Ridge « Tales from the Trails Says:

    […] some amazing vistas and a beautiful creek await. You might even discover one of Boulder’s Coralroot Orchids hiding under a pine tree… Coralroot Orchid (Corallorhiza maculata) 27 May […]

  3. A Finale to Spring in Boulder – The Calypso Orchid « Tales from the Trails Says:

    […] with most orchids Calypso  depends on a symbiotic relationship with a fungus. In this case the seed of Calypso […]

  4. Improbable Parasites On the Mesa Trail | Tales from the Trails Says:

    […] was surprised when I discovered my first Colorado Orchid; I thought they only grew in lush, tropical environments. Actually there are more than 25,000 […]

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