Corallorhiza mertensiana was described by Bongard (1833) from Sitka, a pacific island off the coast of Alaska, and it is until today the accepted name for this species (WCSP), although several transfers have been proposed over the years. Kuntze (1891) proposed Neottia mertensiana. Calder & L.Taylor (1965) suggested this species to be a subspecies of Corallorhiza maculata, as these species are very closely related and could not be distinguished from eachother, at least in British Colombia. Freudenstein (1997) argued that the intergrades that could have been found, could aswell be due to secondary contact (hybridisation). C. vancouveriana was proposed by Finet (1909) and C. purpurea by L.O. Williams (1932). In both cases these species were not recognised and are today listed as synonyms of C. mertensiana. C. mertensiana occures in the northern western states of the U.S.A. incuding Alaska (POWO). It is the most narrowly distributed species of coral-root north of Mexico. The flowers are very open and colorful wiht a unique (for the genus) perianth orientation and the mentum is well developed, suggesting insect pollination (Freudenstein 1997). It can be distinguished from other Corallorhiza species by the strongly ascending flowers, purple-deep violet color and floral structure.
Corallorhiza mertensiana Bongard 1833
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