The Florida Ghost Orchid
The Florida Ghost Orchid
Photo credit: Mike Fournier

 

The Endangered Plants of Florida

 

 

The Ghost Orchid
Dendrophylax lindenii

 

Florida, La Florida, as it was named by Spanish explorer

Ponce De Leon, in the early 1500's, means Land of the Flowers.

We certainly do attempt to live up to the name!


There are 118 Orchid Species in the State of Florida,

and 50 of them are in South Florida.

 Orchids also grow in our Forests, but they have

been picked by poachers there into near extinction.

And of those 118 species of Orchids, only one rules,

the Ghost Orchid.

 

It is the most watched, searched for, treasured, admired,

and just about every other adjective that you can think of, plant.

It is simply the most desirable flower in the world

and it lives in Florida.

 

The unique Ecosystem necessary

to maintain the Ghost Orchid,

exists only in one small part of South Florida,

and of course in Cuba, where it was first seen in 1844,

 then many years later it was seen in the Everglades.

 

Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve, the Orchid capital

of North America, is one of the places where it still lives,

the other is the Audubon Corkscrew Sanctuary.

 

If you are ever near Naples, Florida, it would be a never

to be forgotten experience, I am sure, to take a trip

to the Audubon Corkscrew Sanctuary there.

One of the few last places on Earth where the

breathtaking Ghost Orchid can still be seen.

 

Its appearance of not actually being attached to the

Cypress Tree has given it the nickname of frog,

as it looks like a frog leaping away.

It has no leaves and hardly any stem.

 

If you are an exquisitely beautiful, rare and most needy flower,

it also doesn't hurt to have really dedicated U.S. Fish and

Wildlife Biologist Larry Richardson at your beck and call.

Florida FWS Biologist Larry Richardson
Source of this photo is unknown.
If this is your picture, please contact me.

 

These Orchids are his babies and he looks after

them like any other mother would.

In his spare time, he also keeps an eye on the critically

Endangered Florida Panther with whom the

Ghost Orchids share an Ecosystem.

 

Poachers have repeatedly stolen this precious flower,

only to learn that what it needs to survive they simply

can not provide, namely a 600-800 year old Bald Cypress,

or a Pop Ash or Pond Apple Tree in a Big Swamp.

 

The only known pollinator of this beautiful plant is the Giant Sphinx Moth.

We have seen this magnificent Insect in our yard here in the Ocala Forest

many early mornings and right at dusk dining on our white four o'clocks,

which they appear to absolutely love!

The Florida Ghost Orchid
The Florida Ghost Orchid
Dendrophylax lindenii
Photo credit: Mike Fournier

 

There are over 55 Endangered or Threatened plants in Florida,

and they are all conveniently listed here:

Florida's Federally Listed Plant Species

 


Places to learn more:

 

Florida Native Plant Society

Ecosystems of Florida

 

National Wildlife Federation

A Delicate Affair: Orchids and Panthers

 

Star Banner

The Ocala National Forest Ecosystem

 

Florida State Parks

Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve

 

University of Florida

Florida Forest Plants

Florida Forest Trees

 


 

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Last edited June 21, 2017

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