The answer is the exotic, mysterious and elusive ghost orchid, also known by its scientific name of Dendrophylax lindenii. The flower was made famous in the non-fiction book “The Orchid Thief” by Susan Orlean and in the film adaptation. It gets its name from the delicate movement of its flower petals at night, which is said to resemble a small ghost.
Known only to live in South Florida and Cuba, the plant relies on extremely sensitive wetland habitats to survive. Loss of habitat, climate change and poaching have all contributed to its dwindling numbers.
There’s only an estimated 1,500 of the orchids left growing in the wild outside of a few plant conservatories and sanctuaries, where it draws visitors from around the globe. The orchid only grows in 3 South Florida counties.
Living in Harmony
The white-flowering orchid clings to the trunks and limbs of cypress, palm and pond apple trees in a symbiotic relationship with a type of fungus. It draws sustenance from the air or the fungi, without causing harm to the fungi or the tree. The plants are almost invisible for the majority of the year since they’re leafless.
When its Bloom Time
The orchid quickly springs into visibility when rain and humidity levels are optimal, sporting multiple spikes of flower buds that will eventually unfold into delicate, ethereal and uniquely shaped blossoms. Plants are slow growing and require several years to mature. The blossoms are fragrant and the plant typically bloom between June and October before dying back to its roots. However, it has been known to bloom out of its typical season if conditions are right.
Super Ghost Orchid
The most famous ghost orchid is one discovered at Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in July 2007. It’s been carefully nurtured and has thrived. The plant has been dubbed the “Super Ghost Orchid” for its size. It’s the state’s largest ghost orchid ever discovered.
Contact RCH Landscaping Today for a Free Estimate