Gagnebin (coral root)
saprophytic, with greatly reduced amounts of chlorophyll in Missouri species,
glabrous, with highly branched, coral‑like rhizomes encircled at regular
intervals by scars of successive sheathing bracts. Flowering stems yellowish
tan to purple with flowers in a raceme toward the tip. Leaves absent, the
flowering stems with few, small sheathing bracts. Sepals and lateral petals
similar, linear‑lanceolate to narrowly oblong, the lateral sepals and
petals curved upward and inward and partially overlapping the upper sepal (in Missouri taxa). Lip ovate to obovate, with the margins somewhat wavy. Stamen 1, staminodes
lacking. Capsules pendant, ovoid to nearly globose, strongly ribbed. Ten
species, North America, Central America, Caribbean Islands, Europe, Asia.
Corallorhiza is generally thought of as a genus of obligate saprophytes
devoid of chlorophyll, Freudenstein (1992) has reviewed the evidence for
photosynthesis in C. trifida Châtel. and also has presented data
suggesting that chlorophyll occurs in several other species, including the taxa
found in Missouri.