Observation 9892: Corallorhiza mertensiana

When: 2001-07-04

Collection location: Larch Mountain, Multnomah Co., Oregon, USA [Click for map]

Who: Daniel B. Wheeler (Tuberale)

No specimen available

Identification from Gilkey-Dennis’ Handbook of Northwestern Plants. This is also known as Purple Corallorhiza, which can also be red (as in this case), associated with Noble fir or Western hemlock. Included here because this plant is actually a parasite growing from a truffle, usually a Rhizopogon species. The Rhizopogon is a mycorrhizal species, which obtains food from a host plant, usually a tree, in exchange for gathering water and nutrients. The host plant provide the fungus with carbohydrates in exchange. This non-photosynthetic plant has tapped into the fungal network, and is living off the carbohydrates provided by the host tree. Dr. La Rea J. Dennis told me that Dr. Helen Gilkey (who’s master’s thesis was The Tuberales of North America) had grown a similar orchid by first growing a tree, then growing the fungus with the tree, then finally introducing seeds of the orchid to the fungus. It was a process which I can only imagine took many years to accomplish, but has been done. Posted as a memorial to Dr. Gilkey who was my botany professor at Oregon State University, and Dr. Dennis, who got me interested in truffles.

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Created: 2008-08-23 09:45:09 MDT (-0600)
Last modified: 2008-08-23 09:45:09 MDT (-0600)
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