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Please be considerate around our Coralroots

22nd May 2018

Coral Root Orchid © Paul Drummond

As many of you will surely know, Gosforth Park Nature Reserve is home to a colony of a very rare Coralroot Orchids Corallorhiza trifida, so named because their underground rhizomes look like branches of ocean coral. Our colony of these beautiful, dainty flowers is very important – representing one of only a handful of populations in the UK and the second largest in England. It is therefore vital that we do our best to protect and conserve the species and its fragile habitat: both of which are easily damaged by trampling and increased human footfall.

To allow people to see the orchids without damaging them and their habitat we have installed a small boardwalk (see map for location) located approximately 10 metres from the main path. It is vital that members and other individuals visiting the reserve stick to this, so to allow Gosforth’s orchids to bloom long into the future. The boardwalk provides an ideal setting from which to both enjoy and photograph Coralroots, and there is little need to leave the path.

The obscure yet beautiful Coralroot spends most of its life underground, but between May-July each year, produces greenish-white flowers, dotted with red spots, atop 10-30cm stems. While the species is capable of some photosynthesis, the orchid relies predominately on association with a fungus in its underground rhizomes for much of its nutrition. The fungus absorbs food from dead plant material in the soil, eventually passing it to the orchid. The fungus originates from the roots of the Birch trees which are also found in this area.

The map below shows the proper place from which to view the orchids. Please help us (and these precious flowers) by sticking to existing routes and walkways.