2020 55¢ Hexalectris Spicata (Crested Coralroot Orchid)
Value: 55¢ 1-ounce First-class rate (Forever)
Issue Date: February 21, 2020
First Day City:
Coral Gables, FL
Type of Stamp: Definitive
Printed by: Banknote Corporation of America
Printing Method: Offset
Format: Double-sided booklet of 20
Quantity Printed: 500,000,000
Orchid species commonly bought in a store are known for large, colorful flowers that are impossible to miss. Wild orchids, on the other hand, can be relatively small and easily overlooked by inexperienced gardeners.
One unusual wild orchid native to the United States is Hexalectris spicate – the “crested coralroot” orchid. The orchid earned its name from the Greek Hexalectris, meaning “six rooster,” in reference to the six raised ridges on the lower flower petal. Spicate indicates that the flowers grow from a spike. The “coralroot” part of this orchid’s common name refers to the plant’s twisted thick, stem-like root system.
The crested coralroot orchid has no leaves and is unable to produce chlorophyll to feed itself. Instead, it relies on a special relationship with certain fungi to survive. This is called mycorrhiza and consists of the fungi attaching to the orchid’s roots to provide it with water and other essential nutrients. Without the fungi, the orchid would eventually wither and die.
The crested coralroot orchid usually grows in tall grass or leaf litter, so even when it flowers, it can blend in with its surroundings from a distance. However, when viewed up close, the plant’s purple- and magenta-striped flowers become visible and reveal the plant’s striking hidden beauty.