Stems ± strongly thickened, base not bulbous. Inflorescences: racemes dense to lax, 10-65 × 1.5-6.5 cm. Flowers 6-41, conspicuous; perianth open; sepals directed forward to somewhat spreading, brown, tan, red, or yellow, often darker distally, lanceolate, 3-veined, 4.7-15 mm; petals frequently curved toward column, nearly adhering to it, tan to yellowish, often red distally, usually spotted with purple, lanceolate to oblanceolate, 4.5-11.5 mm; lip white, usually spotted with purple, obovate to elliptic, thin, lateral lobes 2, rounded, middle lobe oblong to broadly dilated toward apex, with 2 distinct basal lamellae, 4-9 × 1.5-6 mm; column whitish yellow, spotted with purple, usually curved, 3.3-7.8 mm, basally with ridges or poorly developed auricles; ovary 5-14 mm; mentum obscure, adnate to edge of ovary. Capsules pendulous, ellipsoid, 9-24 × 5-9 mm. 2n = 42. Several color forms exist in Corallorhiza maculata, often occurring in proximity and sometimes forming large clumps. White-flowered southern plants have occasionally been misidentified as Corallorhiza trifida. Dance-flies (Empis) have been reported as pollinators (J. L. Kipping 1971).