Friday, August 15, 2008

Orchid Growing Tips - Ghost Orchid?

A rare and endangered orchid species lives just around the corner from me ......

I have the honor to live in SW Florida where occasionally one can get a look at the famous Ghost Orchid. These can be found in the everglades swamp ... which is not a lot of fun to hang out in, or you can, like I did, go to the
Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary just down the road.

This rare and endangered flower is available for everyone to see whether you are wearing flip flops or high heels. There is even a telescope right there on the boardwalk to take a look! Many talk about the about the flower's story. They share feelings and thoughts, hopes and fears about its birth, discovery and life.

At Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, the treasured blooms float high on the trunk of a 500-year-old bald cypress tree. Ghost orchids usually have about two blooms, although the one at Corkscrew had more than 10 when it bloomed in 2007.

The endangered species normally blooms in June and July, and had five when it first bloomed June 23. Currently two are visible.

The ghost orchid gets its name because the plant has no leaves, only roots, and when it blooms, the flower appears to be floating freely.

Professional photographer Rod Wiley, 57, says, "When it's first born, it looks like a pollywog. Then it opens, and if we're lucky, the sphinx moth comes in and sticks his long tongue down in there. His face brushes up against those little black dots that look like eyes and pollinates it." He is documenting its life for the sanctuary, from buds to blooms, like a parent photographing a growing child.

Sanctuary employee Mike Shunney said, "Yes, the ghost orchid is in bloom," adding, "Yes, you can see it from the boardwalk," he adds. "It's about 50 feet up in a tree and about 150 feet out. There's a spotting scope, so you can get a close look."

The cypress canopy is thick where the ghost blooms, shading the boardwalk completely. The earth below is layered with needles, logs, leaves, roots.

Talk about a real treat to see! Orchid growing tips? I don't have any for the Ghost Orchid, but it is something everyone should see at least once!

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