The Great Canadian Couch Tour

I’ve finally finished my Grand Couch Tour photo album and it’s now online.

Ya, I know that what you really want to see is pictures of Munich! I’m getting there. I couldn’t cope until I got this load off my back.

And to add a touch of relevance to this post, the photo album does contain a picture of a native orchid that I spotted during a hike to Cheakamus Lake near Whistler, B.C. It was a hunch, really — the plant was clearly saprophytic — one that has no leaves and no clorophyll, so it can’t make it’s own food. It gets its nutrients through a symbiotic relationship with a subterranean mycorrhizal fungus. Anyway, it looked a lot like the coral root orchids I saw on the Bruce Peninsula.

close-up photo credit

I sent a photo to North American orchid expert David McAdoo, who very helpfully wrote back immediately with this reply:

You are right about the plant – it is an orchid. It is a coral root by the name of Corallorhiza mertensiana. If you got to the Bruce this year, you might have seen C. striata and/or C. maculata which are about the same size. There are 3 more – C. trifida (spring), C. wisterina (spring), and C. odontorhiza (fall) – but they are much smaller. We have one more in the south – C. bentleyi – that you don’t have. It was only discovered and named about 5 years ago. That is all that there are in North America.

Another nice find during my tour was a breathtaking clump of bunchberry in bloom in the forest — a entire meadow full of them. The forest floor was white with their starry blooms. I won’t forget that sight.