August 30, 2007


Polyrrhiza lindenii

Watched an interesting story on the news recently about a woman looking for owls in the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary outside Naples, Florida. She discovered a rare ghost orchid growing 60 feet up on a bald cypress tree. The orchid is estimated to be 30 to 50 years old.

What is so rare about the ghost orchid is that it exists at all because it is dependent upon the giant Sphinx moth that flies only at night to pollinate it. As if that wasn't enough, its seed needs a specific strain of beneficial fungus to survive and if there's not sufficient peat to feed its host, the Cypress, it will likely perish. There's more. It must get enough water to saturate the air and prevent temperature swings. All this for an irregular and infrequent bloom . What odds if you were a gambler.

Fewer than 1,000 of the species remain and only in Southwest Florida and Cuba. Now that the location is known I would venture to guess that orchid enthusiasts will be visiting the site with bags and baskets in hand.


  1. It is quite ethereal looking isn't it!

  2. Wow, such an interesting and beautiful orchid. Amazing that it has survived so long when it depends on so many specific conditions for its continued survival. I read an article about illegal orchid collecting and smuggling. It did not paint a pretty picture about what people go through to have a rarity. Never mind the ecology or that many of the plants were endangered. Unfortunately greed and money triumphs.


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