The month of May brought about a rare and wonderful sight at Hardberger Park—a terrestrial orchid, the crested coralroot (Hexalectris spicata).
Oddly enough, Texas is home to 54 orchids, all of which are terrestrial (Liggio and Liggio, Wild Orchids of Texas, 1999). This differs from tropical orchids which are mainly epiphytic (air plants) (Liggio and Liggio 1999). It may be surprising to some that, like grasses, palms, and lilies, orchids are actually monocots (Brown, Field Guide to the Wild Orchids of Texas, 2008).
Hexalectris spicata found late this spring at Hardberger Park is more accurately termed by recent publications as myco-heterotrophic instead of saprophytic. The plant derives nutrients, starches, and sugars from mycorrhizal fungal associations with the roots (Poole et al, Rare Plants of Texas, 2007). But perhaps the most amazing and interesting fact of all, because orchid seeds lack an endosperm, seeds have to fall right where the mycorrhizal
Monday, 03 June 2013