Botanical Name : Corallorhiza odontorhiza
Species: C. odontorhiza
Synonyms–: Dragon’s Claw. Coral Root. Chicken Toe.
Common names: Fall coral-root or Small-flowered coral-root
Habitat:Corallorhiza odontorhiza is Indigenous to the United States, from Maine to Carolina westward. It grows in rich woods at the roots of trees.
Corallorhiza odontorhiza is aperennial parasitic plant, growing to 0.4 m (1ft 4in). It is in flower from Jul to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Flies.
It has been used by the herbalists for centuries.It is singular and leafless, with muchbranched and toothed coral-like root-stocks, the root being a collection of fleshy, articulated tubers, the scape about 14 inches high, fleshy, smooth, striate, with a few long purplish-brown long sheaths, the flowers, 10 to 20, greenish brown in colour, on a long spike, blooming from July to October, with a large, reflexed, ribbed, oblong capsule.
The root is the official part; it is small and dark, with a strong nitrous smell and a slightly bitter mucilaginous astringent taste, the fracture is short and presents under the microscope a frosted granular appearance.
We have very little information on this species and do not know if it will be hardy in Britain, though judging by its native range it should succeed outdoors in many parts of this country. It is a parasitic plant, growing at the roots of trees. We would suggest that it is best grown in a humus rich soil in light woodland. Orchids are, in general, shallow-rooting plants of well-drained low-fertility soils. Their symbiotic relationship with a fungus in the soil allows them to obtain sufficient nutrients and be able to compete successfully with other plants. They are very sensitive to the addition of fertilizers or fungicides since these can harm the symbiotic fungus and thus kill the orchid.
Seed – we have no information on this species but, like all members of the orchid family, the seed of this species is extremely simple, it has a minute embryo surrounded by a single layer of protective cells. It contains very little food reserves and depends upon a symbiotic relationship with a species of soil-dwelling fungus. The fungal hyphae invade the seed and enter the cells of the embryo. The orchid soon begins to digest the fungal tissue and this acts as a food supply for the plant until it is able to obtain nutrients from decaying material in the soil. Surface sow the seed, preferably as soon as it is ripe, in the greenhouse and do not allow the compost to dry out. It is best to use some of the soil that is growing around established plants in order to introduce the fungus, or to sow the seed around a plant of the same species and allow the seedlings to grow on until they are large enough to move. Division in autumn. Make sure that you keep plenty of soil with each plant. It is also said to be possible to transplant orchids after they have flowered but whilst they are still in leaf. Grow on for at least the first year before potting up and do not plant out until the plants are 2 – 4 years old. Division of offsets
Part Used in medicines:—The root.
Diaphoretic; Febrifuge; Sedative.
The root is diaphoretic, febrifuge and sedative. It is one of the most certain, quick and powerful diaphoretics, but it is a scarce plant and therefore a very expensive medicine to obtain.
It is one of the most certain, quick and powerful diaphoretics, but its scarcity and high price prevents it being more generally used. It promotes perspiration without producing any excitement in the system, so is of value in pleurisy, typhus fever and other inflammatory diseases. In addition to being a powerful diaphoretic, its action has a sedative effect. It has been found efficacious inacute erysipelas, cramps, nightsweats, flatulence and hectic fevers generally, and combines tonic, sedative, diaphoretic and febrifuge properties without weakening the patient, its valuable properties being most marked in low stages of fever.