Photo above of Merten's coral root from near the Whitewater Trail Trailhead, Mt Jefferson Wilderness.........6-19-92.
Merten's coral root is a small flowered orchid which grows to 18 inches tall. The plant is reddish in color, although it may be a somewhat tannish color at times. The flowers number up to 30, and may be well spaced to crowded on the upper stem. The sepals are from 8 to 10 mm long, 12 to 15 mm wide, and narrowly oblong to narrowly oblanceolate in shape. The lateral pair of sepals join below to form a rounded, saccate spur 1 to 3 mm long.
The petals are slightly broader than the sepals and roughly equal in size. The lower petal is deep pink to red with three main veins which may be yellowish to dark red.
Corallorhiza mertensiana may be identified from Corallorhiza maculata by its generally deeper red, unspotted lip, and by the more-pronounced spur.
Merten's coral root is found in moist, coniferous forests.
Merten's coral root is found from southern Alaska to southeastern British Columbia and eastward to Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming. It is found southward to the Columbia Gorge and south to northwestern California. In the Columbia River Gorge, it may be found approximately between Multnomah Falls and the White Salmon River between the elevations of 900'-4000'.
Photo above of Merten's coral root (or possibly Corallorhiza trifida) from the Columbia Wilderness, near Wahtum Lake...........7-10-94.