Ghost orchids for sale

The Natural Habitat of Orchids

orchid image by Anton Chernenko from <a href=’http://www.fotolia.com’>Fotolia.com</a>

Orchids are often thought of as tropical perennial flowering plants. However, a number of varieties, like the Lady Slipper, are found in the northern latitudes of the United States. Orchids in colder climates tend to be terrestrial orchids, however. Epiphytic, or orchids that grow on tree surfaces, tend to be primarily tropical and subtropical plants.

Types

There are two general types of orchids. One is terrestrial orchids. Terrestrial orchids grow in the organically rich soils of the forest floor. They thrive in the decomposing leaves and twigs of the forest canopy. The second general type of orchids is epiphytic. Epiphytic orchids grow by attaching themselves to the bark of living trees, dying trees or, in rare cases, dead trees.

Air Flow

In their natural environments, orchids have good air flow around the roots, leaves and flowers. Terrestrial orchids grow in loose soils with very high organic content that often includes leaves and twigs. This allows air to reach their roots. The roots of epiphytic orchids attach the plants to tree bark. This allows large root surface areas to be exposed to air. By growing high in the air, there is little to no interference with air flow to the roots and around the plant.

Nutrients

Terrestrial orchids get their nutrients in a way similar to that of any other plant. The roots work with beneficial soil organisms to break down organic matter into usable nutrients. Epiphytic orchids have specialized roots with multiple layers that help the roots take the nutrients they need from organic matter that falls on the roots, the bark below the roots and the air.

Water

Like with nutrient absorption, terrestrial orchids get their water in the same way as other plants: through rainfall, dew and other naturally occurring water sources. Epiphytic orchids, however, don’t have the advantage of having soil to hold in moisture. Epiphytic orchids have special root layers that absorb and store water for future use. This water can be in the form of rain, water running down a branch or, in some cases, humidity in the air.

Sun

Because they grow under taller forest canopies or on the branches of trees, orchids can grow in lighting conditions ranging from partial sun to full shade, depending on the species. In nature, an orchid won’t grow in a place where lighting conditions are unsuitable. Epiphytic orchids, because they often have less protection from the sun, often are more tolerant of bright, hot light.

Orchids Natural Habitat Stock Photos and Images

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  • Gymnadenia conopsea . Fragrant Orchids in the grass in an English nature reserve
  • Phalaenopsis orchid flowers blooms in lush natural habitat
  • Orchids on trees
  • Gymnadenia conopsea . Fragrant Orchids in the grass in an English nature reserve
  • Raceme of Plalaenopsis orchid blooms in lush natural habitat
  • Gymnadenia conopsea . Fragrant Orchids in the grass in an English nature reserve
  • Orchids on Cassia moschata
  • Raceme of Phalaenopsis orchid blooms in lush natural habitat
  • Gymnadenia conopsea . Fragrant Orchid going to seed
  • Orchids on trees
  • Raceme of Phalaenopsis (Moth Orchid) blooms in lush natural habitat
  • Orchids on trees
  • Maroon Banded Greenhood Orchid, Urochilus sanguineus. Growing in natural environment in the Aldinga Scrub Conservation Park, Aldinga, South Australi
  • Raceme of Plalaenopsis orchid blooms in lush natural habitat
  • Orchids on trees
  • Orchis morio / Anacamptis morio. Green winged Orchids in a meadow in the English countryside
  • Orchids on trees
  • Orchis morio / Anacamptis morio. Green winged Orchids in a meadow in the English countryside
  • A pair of Common Fragrant Orchids in their natural and unspoilt meadow habitat
  • Large Yellow Lady Slipper Orchids (Cypripedium calceolus var. pubescens) Michigan USA
  • Orchis morio / Anacamptis morio. Green winged Orchids in a meadow in the English countryside
  • A panoramic view of the the natural forest habitat in Crooked Brook National Park which provides habitat for native marsupials
  • Orchis morio / Anacamptis morio. Green winged Orchids in a meadow in the English countryside
  • blooming orchids in native tropical environment in Hawaii botanical garden
  • Military Orchids (Orchis militaris) and hybrids flowering at sunset. On the Causse de Gramat, Lot region, France. May.
  • Orchis morio / Anacamptis morio. Green winged Orchids in a meadow in the English countryside
  • Ophrys wild flower macro background high quality 50,6 Megapixels prints
  • Orchis morio / Anacamptis morio. Green winged Orchids and cowslips in a meadow in the English countryside
  • Bee orchid flowers blooming on a grassy meadow in early summer
  • Ophrys wild flower macro background high quality 50,6 Megapixels prints
  • Orchis morio / Anacamptis morio. Green winged Orchids and cowslips in a meadow in the English countryside
  • Bee orchid flowers – Ophrys apifera – blooming on a grassy meadow in early summer
  • Orchis morio / Anacamptis morio. Green winged Orchids in Bernwood Meadows nature reserve in the English countryside
  • Ophrys wild flower macro background high quality 50,6 Megapixels prints
  • Bee orchid flowers – Ophrys apifera – blooming on a grassy meadow in early summer
  • Orchis morio / Anacamptis morio. Green winged Orchids in Bernwood Meadows nature reserve in the English countryside with dark rainclouds. UK
  • Ophrys wild flower macro background high quality 50,6 Megapixels prints
  • Bee orchid flowers – Ophrys apifera – blooming on a grassy meadow in early summer
  • Orchis morio / Anacamptis morio. Green winged Orchids in Bernwood Meadows nature reserve in the English countryside with dark rainclouds. UK
  • Ophrys wild flower macro background high quality 50,6 Megapixels prints
  • Orchis mascula. Early purple orchid on the roadside. Devon. England
  • Bee orchid flowers – Ophrys apifera – blooming on a grassy meadow in early summer
  • Dactylorhiza purpurella, Northern Marsh orchid
  • Ophrys wild flower macro background high quality 50,6 Megapixels prints
  • Bee orchid flowers – Ophrys apifera – blooming on a grassy meadow in early summer
  • Dactylorhiza purpurella, Northern Marsh orchid
  • Ophrys wild flower macro background high quality 50,6 Megapixels prints
  • Ophrys apifera – bee orchid in bloom in summer
  • Orchis morio / Anacamptis morio. Green winged Orchid in a meadow in the English countryside
  • Ophrys wild flower macro background high quality 50,6 Megapixels prints
  • Bee orchid flowers blooming on a grassy meadow in early summer, Hertfordshire
  • Orchis morio / Anacamptis morio. Green winged Orchid in a meadow in the English countryside
  • Ophrys wild flower macro background high quality 50,6 Megapixels prints
  • Early Purple Orchids, Orchis mascula, in flower in calcareous grassland
  • Orchis morio / Anacamptis morio. Green winged Orchid in a meadow in the English countryside
  • Ophrys wild flower macro background high quality 50,6 Megapixels prints
  • Orchis morio / Anacamptis morio. Green winged Orchid in a meadow in the English countryside
  • Early Purple Orchids, Orchis mascula, in flower in calcareous grassland
  • Close-up of a bee orchid (Ophrys apifera) in a wildflower meadow in Hampshire, UK
  • Orchis morio / Anacamptis morio. Green winged Orchid in a meadow in the English countryside
  • Early Purple Orchids, Orchis mascula, in flower in calcareous grassland
  • Gymnadenia conopsea . Fragrant Orchids in the grass in an English nature reserve
  • Common spotted orchids Dactylorhiza fuchsii in an organic hay meadow Carmarthenshire Wales Cymru UK GB
  • Gymnadenia conopsea . Fragrant Orchids in the grass in an English nature reserve
  • Green-winged Orchids, Anacamptis morio, in flower in old grassland, spring.
  • Gymnadenia conopsea . Fragrant Orchids in the grass in an English nature reserve
  • Field full of Elder-flowered Orchids, Dactylorhiza sambucina in the Velebit Mountains, Croatia.
  • spring meadow and blooming orchids, Ammergau Alps in background, Germany, Bavaria, Oberbayern, Upper Bavaria, Alpenvorland
  • Gymnadenia conopsea . Fragrant Orchids in the grass in an English nature reserve
  • Field full of Elder-flowered Orchids, Dactylorhiza sambucina in the Velebit Mountains, Croatia.
  • Dendrobium terrestrial orchids in natural habitat
  • Green-winged Orchids, Anacamptis morio, in flower in old grassland, spring.
  • Dendrobium Gracilicaule terrestrial orchids in natural habitat
  • Yellow Bee Orchids (Ophrys lutea) flowering in open stony habitat. Ile St. Martin, Aude, France. May.
  • Green-winged Orchids, Anacamptis morio, in flower in old grassland, spring.
  • Wildflowers in chalk downland meadow habitat at Noar Hill, Hampshire, UK
  • Common spotted-orchid,Dactylorhiza fuchsii,one of Europe’s commonest wild orchids
  • Green-winged Orchids, Anacamptis morio, in flower in old grassland, spring.
  • Wildflowers in chalk downland meadow habitat at Noar Hill, Hampshire, UK
  • Alkaline fen with orchids in Kemeri national park
  • Green-winged Orchids, Anacamptis morio, in flower in old grassland, spring.
  • Common Cotton Grass thriving in the Wetland Habitat of Lower Southrepps in Spring. Unusual. Rare plants OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMER
  • Alkaline fen with orchids in Kemeri national park
  • Green-winged Orchids, Anacamptis morio, pale form in flower in old grassland, spring.
  • Pink Lady’s Slipper Orchids (Cypripedium acaule), blooming, Mixed Oak and White Pine forest, Eastern USA, by James D Coppinger/Dembinsky Photo Assoc
  • Queendown Warren, Stockbury, Kent
  • Pink Lady’s Slipper Orchids (Cypripedium acaule), blooming, Mixed Oak and White Pine forest, Eastern USA, by James D Coppinger/Dembinsky Photo Assoc
  • Queendown Warren, Stockbury, Kent
  • Pink Lady’s Slipper Orchids (Cypripedium acaule), blooming, Mixed Oak and White Pine forest, Eastern USA, by James D Coppinger/Dembinsky Photo Assoc
  • Large Yellow Lady’s – Slipper Orchids Cypripedium calceolus variety pubescens in garden setting Eastern USA
  • UK habitats & wildlife: Purple southern marsh orchid (dactylorhiza praetermissa) in a wild meadow, Burley-in-Wharfedale, West Yorkshire, England, UK
  • Large Yellow Lady’s – Slipper Orchids Cypripedium calceolus variety pubescens in garden setting Eastern USA
  • Yellow Lady’s Slipper Orchid Cypripedium calceolus variety pubescens Michigan USA
  • Pink Globe Orchid Traunsteinera globosa growing in alpine habitat Austria
  • Pyramidal orchids in their natural habitat
  • Large Yellow Lady’s-Slipper Orchid Cypripedium calceolus variety pubescens Michigan USA

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(504) Page 1 of 6123456By TommyCrash – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

Peristeria, Dove Orchid or Holy Spirit Orchid (Flower of Holy Spirit) is another highly famous orchid. Flowers of this stunning orchid resemble a dove, hence comes its common name. This orchid is the National flower of Panama, however, it dwells not only in Panama but in other countries of Central America. The type species, Peristeria elata, has white flowers, famous for its unique column shape, resembling the dove’s head. A flower is fragrant and its central part resembles a dove. It dwells in cloud rainforests of Central America, in high humidity as an epiphyte, growing in moss-grown tree trunks, near the ground level.

Peristeria elata

By TommyCrash – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

Due to its unique form and beauty, these orchids have become really endangered in nature, near extinction. That’s why it is highly recommended not buy this orchid from questionable sources because every cent in a poacher’s purse is a footstep to this beautiful orchid extinction. Peristeria elata is a large-sized, sympodial orchid with large round pseudobulbs. A mature plant could have pseudobulbs in size of a child’s head. It has up to three to five leaves per each pseudobulb, and its inflorescences are basal and up to 135 centimeters long. Her flowers are long-lasting, successively opened, two inches wide.

What’s about Dove orchid care? – it is not very difficult. It is a hot to warm growing orchid, and it prefers bright, filtered light all year round. When new pseudobulb is actively growing, ample watering is demanded, so as balanced fertilizers for this large, fast-growing orchid – it is a heavy feeder. When active growth in length is slowing, you should reduce watering and fertilizers, because overwatering and excessive fertilizers are not very good in this period. Watering then should be at a minimum level, so if its pseudobulbs shiver a little it’s ok. It is also a good idea to slightly reduce a temperature, especially at night to promote flowering. Then, when flower spikes have emerged, you can slightly increase watering, but not too high. Peristerias prefer open, well-drained potting mixture with medium bark, cocoa chips, sphagnum moss and tree fern. So this orchid’s growing is quite simple, it is recommended not overwater it, especially if it is not in an active growth phase, and give it bright light and warmth.

Peristeria pendula is another quite common in culture species of this genus. It’s a smaller orchid, which grows in similar environments in nature.

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Photo byI, KENPEI Photo byTommyCrashPhoto viawikimediaPhoto byScott ZonaPhoto byOrchi

Peristeria orchids for sale on Ebay and Amazon.

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Ghost Orchids Facts & Meaning, Ghost Orchid Flower Guide

Know Where they Come From: Ghost Orchids

We all know orchids as exotic, classy and high-maintenance blooms. But I’m sure you haven’t heard of ghost orchids which sway to the breeze in night, trance and mesmerize you with its ethereal beauty. Well, fret not, even faint-hearted can enjoy the beauty of these blooms too!

There are two types of ghost orchids known:

  • The first type is Dendrophylax lindenii or the American ghost orchid.
  • The second ghost orchid type is Epipogium aphyllum, better known as the Eurasian ghost orchid.

Here we are talking about the first type, American ghost orchid or D. lindenii.

Have a glance at it: It is the phantom of orchid family and looks nothing like its siblings. It doesn’t have chlorophyll and leaves. It poses like a ghost whenever you try to click it. But what do these characteristics make it? A die-hard, born-to-survive miracle that makes its way through all odds and shines like a star!

The florets don’t have chlorophyll and hence, are white in nature. When they move in night, they look like creepy ghosts floating in air and thus, the name ghost orchids. The plant is also leafless and depends on the other tree to make food. As we write this, only 2,000 orchids are remained in Florida, making it a prized possession of the planet.

The pond apple trees, palm trees, mild temperature, optimum shade and high humidity make South Florida the perfect habitat for them. The roots of plants do the photosynthesis and cling to the trunks trees like cypress, maples and pond apples. The plants remain in a symbiotic relation with mycorrhizal fungus, without which they can’t survive. The fungus needs sugar from the plant and in exchange, it provides and gathers nutrients for it. If the plants aren’t infected by the fungus in the wild, they won’t germinate and will be dead eventually.

The blooming season for the plant is June to August. One to ten flowers are bloomed, with only one flower opening at a time. The scent of plant resembles apple’s fragrance. The lower petal gives the illusion of jumping frog and the bracts of the flowers are almost paper-like, and thin. The roots of the orchid cling with such intensity that not only it is difficult to tell them apart but also it makes for a display of flower floating in the middle of nowhere, eventually lending the flowers a ghost illusion.

Though, the plant doesn’t have any chlorophyll, it is an abundant source of nectar. The pollination of the flowers is done by sphinx moth in night that is lured by nectar. Sphinx has long tongue (proboscis) that lets it reach the nectar sap located deep within. The moth goes from one plant to another in the search of nectar, and transfers the pollen as a result. But due to human intervention in the natural habitat of ghost orchids, the pollination alone doesn’t remain as a reliable and viable option for this endangered flora species.

The sphinx moth justifies Charles Darwin’s prediction of long-tongued moth species for the pollination of the Madagascar orchid Angraecum sesquipedale.

Given their unique appearance, the over-collection of the flowers by flower enthusiasts are also to be blamed for the rapid decline in their population besides hydrologic changes and habitat destruction by humans. In fact, its sightings became too rare that it was declared ‘lost and extinct’ in Britain in the year 2010.

According to the author, Peter Marren of famous book- Britain’s Rare Flowers, the flower blooms when it is the right condition, or else the root stay put underground in hibernation.

Where you can see the Ghost Orchids in Action:

Native to Florida, Bahamas and Cuba, the plant is now deemed endangered and can be seen in Big Cypress National Reserve.

However, recently, biologists at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences have found a new way to culture and process plants from seed to the lab. The plants, so far, have successfully acclimatized to the greenhouse environment. The ghost orchids also showed high rates of survival when planted to wild as well. Out of 80 plants, 70 orchids survived the natural habitat at Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge in Eastern Collier County, Florida. The biologists also found success with ghost orchids planted at the Naples Botanical Garden.

Trivia:

  • Ghost Orchids came into limelight when they featured in non-fiction book, Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean. In the story, the ghost orchid flowers in the Collier Country are stolen by some thieves. Later a movie was also based on this book. K. Christi has also penned a fiction novel, ‘Ghost Orchid’, based on the ghost orchid flowers at Blair Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary.
  • It is also known as palm polly and white frog orchid.
  • The Belgian plant collector Jean Jules Linder spotted the plant in Cuba in 1844 for the first time and in his honor, it is called ‘’
  • Due to its rare presence, the ghost orchids find place on the CITES Appendix II and thus, are protected by Florida State Laws.

Pollination syndromes have been utilized to hypothesize guilds of pollinators since Darwin2. While direct observation of nocturnal pollination can be difficult for a multitude of reasons, floral morphology and resident pollinator communities inform our understanding of likely interaction scenarios. These hypotheses are especially beneficial for rare and/or endangered flowers, and their conservation; in these cases, any information regarding interactions between insects and plants is uniquely valuable. However, until data exist to confirm pollination they should be treated as hypotheses rather than fact.

Previous tongue length hypotheses for D. lindenii were misleading due to the placement of pollinia on the orchid. A proboscis of equal or greater length to that of the nectar spur would allow a visitor to extract all of the nectar, but may be capable of doing so without coming into contact with the flower. Curvature of a flower’s corolla has been shown to improve nectar discovery in Manduca sexta38, which may guide Lepidopterans toward the pollinia of D. lindenii. It appears that hawkmoths with probocides of a length slightly shorter than that of the nectar spur are encouraged to dive toward the flower to fully penetrate its proboscis to maximize nectar retrieval, increasing the probability of pollinia affixing to the moth and being deposited on a subsequent flower. Nectar volume and height within the corolla is an additional factor that may influence the minimum proboscis length necessary, and could also further distance moths with long probocides from the pollinia. Therefore, any hawkmoth containing a proboscis long enough to surpass the curvature of D. lindenii’s corolla may obtain the minimum volume of nectar necessary to entice it further into the flower, leading to the extraction and deposition of pollinia.

Lepidopterans with substantial proboscis lengths capable of maximum nectar extraction without contacting pollinia function as nectar robbers. This tactic may be employed by C. antaeus, which was recorded visiting D. lindenii on three separate occasions throughout the flowering season, without extracting pollinia. In one instance (Fig. 2), an individual C. antaeus is seen feeding on D. lindenii from a distance while covered in pollen from Ipomoea alba. This could also occur by other long-tongued hawkmoths in D. lindenii’s distribution, including Manduca quinquemaculata, and the extremely long-tongued Neococytius cleutenius. Visitors benefit from this behavior by avoiding close contact with the flower, allowing them to forage at a distance from ambush predators that frequently sit and wait at sphingophilous flowers39, including geckos (Fig. 4; unpubl. data, Borneo), frogs, toads (PRH, pers. observ., Borneo, Madagascar, French Guiana), and spiders29,40.

It is widely speculated that long-spurred orchids have lengthy corollas to eliminate loss of pollinia to generalist species that are unlikely to visit another individual of the same species, wasting the intensive energetic investment of flower production11. The volatile compounds emitted from hawkmoth-pollinated flowers are attractive to many nocturnal Lepidoptera, possibly from great distances, with visual cues employed to hone in on flowers at closer proximity41. Unlike Darwin’s extreme hawkmoth system concerning Angraecum sesquipedale and Xanthopan morganii in Madagascar, the nectar spur of D. lindenii is far shorter, and falls within a spectrum of proboscis lengths possessed by resident pollinators in Florida and Cuba. Results here demonstrate that hawkmoths with a proboscis length much shorter than C. antaeus are capable of pollinating D. lindenii which provides support for a multiple pollinator community hypothesis consisting of a diverse guild of moderate to long tongued hawkmoths; such communities have been shown to partition resources temporally42, and timestamped camera trap images can be utilized to investigate these behavioral patterns. The potential of other Lepidopterans should be considered now as well. Pollination here by P. ficus indicates that C. antaeus, the long suspected pollinator, is not the only candidate, possibly not even a primary one, and actually may be robbing nectar at the orchid’s detriment. With the low population number of D. lindenii today, combined with a high extinction rate for relatively recently colonized and diversified orchids43, a multiple pollinator community may provide the best survival strategy for the species. Given the proboscis length of P. ficus, far shorter than the hypothesized pollinator, many more hawkmoth species with equal or greater proboscis lengths (Fig. 6) should be considered as potential candidates.

Lepidoptera species richness and abundance tend to be relatively low in swamp forests44,45,46, which holds true for the Everglades Basin of south Florida. Accordingly, any interactions within a Lepidoptera depauperate community on rare and endangered flower species are of importance to the understanding of their natural history. With more than 49 species of orchids in Fakahatchee alone, the highest diversity in the United States47, only three species of Angiosperms altogether are thought to be pollinated here at night by hawkmoths: D. lindenii (Orchidaceae), Crinum americanum (Amaryllidaceae), and Ipomoea alba (Convolvulaceae). Given the extreme scarcity of D. lindenii and relatively great abundance of I. alba, shown pollinated by C. antaeus here, and C. americanum pollinated by Dolba hyloeus in Houlihan29, it is plausible that these latter two non-orchid sphingophilous flowers may be important nectar sources in sustaining hawkmoth communities, in order to remain resident to pollinate D. lindenii. While historical abundance was higher throughout the species’ Florida distribution, today D. lindenii may be dependent the presence of other sphingophilous flowers to increase its own pollination success, indicating a reality in which coevolutionary single species relationships between one hawkmoth and one orchid, ideal for maximizing fidelity, would no longer be advantageous.

Florida and Cuba populations of D. lindenii share numerous species within their hawkmoth communities, with 50 species of Sphingidae found in Florida’s Everglades Basin48, and 60 in Cuba49, and occasional vagrants to both. Despite the likelihood of Caribbean hawkmoth migrations (pers. comm. Dan Janzen & Winnie Hallwachs), and the feasibility of flight between Florida and Cuba, the disjunction of flowering times between these populations of D. lindenii22,50 indicates that pollinia transfer between these populations, separated spatially and temporally, is unlikely. Consequently, the biological relevance of these two D. lindenii populations being considered one in the same is questioned, and morphometric and genetic analyses should be conducted.

Seasonality and climatic fluctuations influence the phenology of tropical flooded forests51, and in turn the abundance and composition of Lepidoptera communities45. A few studies have correlated hawkmoth abundance with phenology of the flowering species on which they forage21,52,53, and fruit set in orchids has been shown to be higher in correlation with increased flower production36. In the wild, D. lindenii can produce single or multiple flowers annually until the production of inflorescences depletes its nutrient stores (MO, unpubl. data), after which it is common for an individual to undergo dormancy until these nutrients have been replenished28. Collectively, Corkscrew’s “super ghost” is unique in that it ranks among the largest ghost orchid root masses known and it flowers more prolifically than others in south Florida, having produced more than 40 inflorescences in 2014 (SEC, unpubl. data). Long term monitoring of D. lindenii by MO in the Fakahatchee Strand revealed that after germination in 1992, two individuals produced first flowers in July 2008 and July 2009, placing the age at first flower for these two wild D. lindenii at 16 and 17 years, respectively (MO, unpubl. data), while in controlled laboratory settings, time from germination to inflorescence can be expedited28. Additionally, in the 25-year dataset monitoring ~450 ghost orchids at Fakahatchee Strand, the largest population of D. lindenii in Florida, seed pod production by D. lindenii was found to increase in the year following intense hurricanes (MO, unpubl. data), defined as Category 3 or higher, compared to an annual seed pod production in other years between zero and two; after Hurricane Wilma made landfall over Fakahatchee Strand in October 2005, seven seed pods were produced during summer 2006, and six seed pods were produced during summer 2018 after Hurricane Irma directly impacted Fakahatchee Strand in September 2017 (MO, unpubl. data). While hurricanes have immediate destructive impacts on natural environments, including Hurricane Ivan’s devastation on the population of D. lindenii in western Cuba54, and the loss of one of Corkscrew Swamp’s individuals to Irma in 2017, replenished aquifer conditions imposed in the aftermath of intense hurricanes briefly resemble that of an era prior to the drainage of the Everglades. Further investigation is necessary to understand the correlations between these abiotic factors on D. lindenii flower production in the wild.

The Fakahatchee Strand was heavily logged for T. distichum (bald cypress) in the first half of the 20th Century, effectively removing an entire upper strata from the Fakahatchee, and lowering the canopy. Today, the epiphytic orchids in Fakahatchee occur predominantly on pond apple (Annona glabra) and pop ash (Fraxinus caroliniana), which may be attributed solely to mycorrhizal relationships and host plant affinities22. However, it is difficult to assess what former role T. distichum served as a host tree due to its widespread selective logging. Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is home to the largest remaining old growth cypress stand in the world, where the only known D. lindenii are found within the virgin cypress stand, attached to T. distichum. Prior to cypress logging and orchid poaching, T. distichum may have hosted a higher proportion of the D. lindenii population than present day. Corkscrew Swamp sheds light on the ghost orchid’s historical natural habitat in which T. distichum expands the vertical stratification where D. lindenii can occur and also provides more surface area suited to sustain older, larger, and more fruitful epiphytic orchids. Lepidoptera community composition fluctuates greatly with respect to vertical stratification within tropical forests44; expanding the species’ height distribution exposes D. lindenii to a more diverse pollinator community, and attracts pollinators from greater distances due to the wider dispersal of volatile compounds in and above the upper canopy, increased reflectance of ambient light on floral color, and closer proximity to far ranging hawkmoths that exhibit above-canopy cruising altitudes. The epiphytic presence of D. lindenii in the cypress canopy also aides wind dispersal of seeds. Ghost orchid recruitment in the understory tends to occur within the immediate vicinity, often on the same tree or within the same slough as the parent plant (pers. observ., PRH & MO), with population dynamics functioning as epiphytic metapopulations as in Winkler et al.55. At lower heights in flooded forests, seeds are often dispersed into the water rather than on a potential host tree. Increasing the distance above the forest floor enables more surface area for seeds to colonize throughout the forest on their descent, and also a higher likelihood for windward travel through the upper canopy, increasing seed dispersal and genetic diversity.

The bald cypress canopy also serves as a microclimate buffer, stabilizing abiotic conditions within the forest critical to the life cycle of D. lindenii28. While widespread hydrologic disruption has been well-documented with the channelization and compartmentalization of the Florida Everglades, regional impacts of land use changes and increased groundwater extraction, concurrent with increased population growth, are becoming evident. Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary’s 55-year hydrologic record indicates a 27% decrease in the hydroperiod of the sanctuary’s bald cypress swamp, with most change taking place 1990 to 201556. While the exact cause of these changes are unknown, a combination of upstream and downstream development, increased groundwater extraction, and increased evapotranspiration are likely culprits. For species sensitive to temperature and/or humidity, particularly epiphytic orchids, these changes translate to an absence of standing water below the bald cypress canopy for nearly three additional months during the dry season, significantly increasing their vulnerability to microclimate extremes. Notably, ghost orchids were more abundant at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary35 and Fakahatchee (MO, unpubl. data) prior to abnormal freezes that decimated populations in recent years. Over-drainage of the western Everglades also places cypress swamps at risk of increasingly severe wildfires57. Small and large scale wetland restoration projects within the Greater Everglades can help maintain and restore climatic stability for both ghost orchids and their hawkmoth pollinators.

Today, the majority of world’s orchids are threatened30, and many species of orchids remain data deficient, particularly with respect to pollination ecology. Understanding in-situ ghost orchid reproduction is imperative for enacting effective conservation, especially for ex-situ propagation and reintroduction efforts. Remote camera trapping methods described here provide new insight into approaches that can be implemented for identifying pollinators of orchids that do not have any documented. Interdisciplinary collaborations between researchers (entomologists and botanists), in coordination with photographers and tree climbers, are critical in addressing these complex conservation issues. Plagued with poaching, historical logging, sprawling development and habitat degradation, and climate change, ghost orchids have a fragile existence, and elevated protection status, from state to Federal, is strongly recommended.

Perhaps Darwin’s most important orchid prediction of all was what he foreshadowed of the conservation of these intricate hawkmoth-orchid systems, in which more than a century and a half ago, he predicted of the Madagascan star orchid, “If such great moths were to become extinct in Madagascar, assuredly the Angraecum would become extinct. On the other hand…the extinction of the Angraecum would…be a serious loss to these moths”2. So too is the precarious fate, and need for conservation, of D. lindenii.

The Ghost Orchid of the Everglades

Photo by Savannah Oglesby

I gained my passion for both nature and plants from my parents. My grandfather on my mother’s side was a botanist, so my mother loves to garden and helps me appreciate every flower or plant we come across. The Everglades is home to a rare and endangered orchid that blooms every summer season. The ghost orchid, also known as Dendrophylax lindenii, are found primarily in the marshy, humid areas of Florida, the Bahamas and Cuba. They require speckled shade, mild temperatures and a certain type of fungus, mycorrhizal, to exist.

It’s hard to locate where exactly ghost orchid plants grow, as their secret spots are meant to protect them from poachers that try to detach them from their natural environment. Wild orchids in the United States, such as the ghost orchid, in general are threatened by pesticides, climate change and loss of pollinators. However, according to experts at University of Florida Extension, there are only 2,000 ghost orchid plants that grow wild in the state of Florida, but recent statistics show that there might be more.

The ghost orchid is usually found with its green roots tangled tightly around the trunk of various tree species, such as pond apple, maple and cypress. Its appearance is distinguishable as its roots are a greyish-green colored marked by thin white strips. The orchid usually only produces one flower that is white in color and its petals are thin and stretch in multiple directions. Its labellum creates the illusion as if the flower has legs, giving the plant the nickname “white frog orchid,” because of the blooms frog-like shape. The plant is also leafless, unlike other orchids, but it has photosynthetic roots that when sunlight is present it produces sugars. The roots also engage in a reciprocal relationship with a mycorrhizal fungus that helps to gather nutrients and in exchange is given extra sugars. The ghost orchid would not be able to flourish without the help of this fungus, because it helps the seeds germinate after it is infected.

In the peak of mosquito season, usually the months of June and July, the ghost orchid blooms. The plant is pollinated at night by the sphinx moth, whose proboscis or long tongue allows the insect to obtain the nectar from the flower that cannot be reached easily by other insects. The sphinx moth will ideally travel to more than just one ghost orchid plant, therefore transporting pollen from one plant to another. This process of pollination by the sphinx moth does not necessarily mean the endangered plant species will bloom, as it does not flower consistently.

Photos by Tommy Owen Photos by Tommy Owen

I still recall the first time I ever saw a ghost orchid back in July 2014. I was overly eager to be able to view something so unique and rare in the orchid plant family. My parents and I traveled to Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary where a family friend told us the ghost orchids were blooming. We walked down the boardwalk, staying quiet so we didn’t disturb the wildlife around us, and finally stopped at the tree where multiple had bloomed. One of the volunteers at the sanctuary had a long telescope set up on the railing of the boardwalk where you could look into and see the ghost orchid closer, since it was wrapped tightly around a soaring cypress tree in the swamp. It was the first time my parents saw a ghost orchid in person, and they were just as in awe as I was. As I looked through the telescope it was as if the blooms were right in front of me, close enough to touch. Stems were tangled among one another, as if the petals on the bloom were dancing about, and the roots looked bound so tight that they draped down the tree like a blanket. It was beautiful and breathtaking; I had never seen anything like it. The ghost orchid has become a symbol of the Everglades and if you’ve never seen one in person, I highly recommend during the months they bloom that you venture into the swamp to find one.

University of Florida student Savannah Oglesby has lived in Everglades City her entire life. A lover of nature; some of her favorite things are sunsets, night lightning and mountains. She enjoys adventures and spending time with family, friends and two orange tabby cats. She also enjoys travelling, taking photos of nature, learning about extreme weather and seeing the world in different perspectives. Savannah’s love for Everglades City, and its history, is endless.

Dendrophylax lindenii – ‘The Ghost Orchid’

The famous ghost orchid from Florida. We are offering seedlings of this unique leafless orchid. Plants are sold by the sum measurement of all roots (a measurement of each root of the plant added together) and have a minimum of two – three roots. All plants will be shipped with live Spanish moss (USA only) to protect them and provide humidity. The photos show plants representative of the different sizes available for sale when listed – not the exact plants you will receive. These plants often sell out very quickly.
PLEASE BE ADVISED! These plants are slow growing, and are difficult to grow!
Ghost orchids are not for beginners and really not suitable as gift plants unless you are sure the recipient is capable of growing this plant. These plants need pure water like rain, distilled or reverse osmosis. High humidity is a must. We cannot guarantee these plants as once they leave our care, we have no control over temperatures and/or how they are being grown, watered, fertilized, etc. We do guarantee that they will arrive in good condition.
Culture recommendations:
There is an excellent article written by Keith Davis for the American Orchid Society about his experience with growing ghost orchids. We highly recommend reading this article: click here
From our experience, these plants need good humidity and daily watering to survive. Studies have shown that hickory bark or Florida buttonwood (this is the tree this species grows on in nature) is one of the best materials you can use but we have grown ours well on cork slabs and on the outside of either clay pots or broken clay pot shards. In addition, Spanish moss (Tillandsia usenoides) should also be draped over the root system. About 30 to 40 percent of the root system should be covered with the Spanish moss. There are a number of videos on YouTube about how to grow these with some interesting solutions for a home grower.
These plants like to be misted daily and like bright light from an east, south or west window. Application of orchid fertilizer is recommended but should be done at a very low dosage. 1/4 strength of the recommended dosage will work. We recommend light fertilizing each time you water or every other time you water. You can mist or flush the plant with pure water first and then mist with a light fertilizer solution. The plants offered are well established on cork slabs.
We produce these as fast as we can. Prices often vary based on availability. When we are low in stock, they are higher. If we have an abundance, we try to be more reasonable. These plants are very hard to find and in high demand.

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