An unusually short yet still flowering spotted coralroot orchid growing in the coastal forest on Fidalgo Island. These beautifully spotted terrestrials are found across North America in northern forests from the Pacific Northwest to Newfoundland. Like most coralroots, they are often found on the forest floor in areas devoid of other low-growth/forest floor vegetation. I usually find them by habitat-type, as they seem to grow best in places where a bit of sunlight reaches a permanently dark forest floor, and can be spectacular when a beam of light penetrates the darkness to reveal this beautiful orchid standing tall. Because it lacks chlorophyll, the leaves of this plant do not use photosynthesis to create its own food, but unusually the ovaries of the flower can, in very small amounts. The main source of nutrients is like that of many other non-green plants (called myco-heterotrophs) - they parasitize the vegetative part of underground fungi, in this case - the mushroom family Russulaceae.
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