General: perennial, saprophytic, lacking chlorophyll, 20-40 cm tall, the stems usually purplish to reddish-brown, but often light yellow in albino forms (these always non-spotted), from thick, branched, coral-like roots.
Leaves: alternate, reduced to thin, semi-transparent sheaths on the stem.
Flowers: about 10-30 in a loose, narrow, elongated cluster, the flower stalks rather slender, 1-2.5 mm long. Sepals brownish-purple, narrowly oblong-lanceolate, 8-10 mm long, 3-nerved, the side pair extending under the base of the lip and with the column forming a blunt bulge about 1 mm long. Side petals brownish, slightly shorter than the sepals, mostly 3-nerved, the lip white, usually strongly spotted with wine-red (or white), with 2 prominent, almost erect side lobes below midlength, the main central lobe obovate, irregularly wavy-edged, up to 5 mm broad. Reproductive column thick and stout, 3.5-4.5 mm long.
Moist to fairly dry, shaded woods, in w. and c. parts of MT. Also from B.C. to Nova Scotia, and to CA, NM, IN, NC, and in C. America.
The Navajo made a tea of spotted coralroot used as a lotion for ringworm or skin disease. The Nevada Indians used a tea of dried, whole plant bits taken for colds. The Paiute and Shoshoni Indians made a tea of dried stalks taken to build up the blood of pneumonia patients.
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