Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Time for Our Annual Central Florida Orchid and Wildflower Walk

Come join us on our upcoming Central Florida Orchid/Wildflower Walk on June 4, 2016!

Price is $10 in advance (to a maximum of $30 for a family of any size) or $15 on the day of the walk (maximum of $45 per family).
NOTE: advanced registration is non-refundable if you are unable to make it to the walk.

We are limiting this walk to 20 participants total for logistics purposes. Ten slots have been claimed, so we have 10 slots left. Click below to reserve your slot today!

Number of Participants in Your Party

We are currently taking online registrations for the upcoming Orchid and Wildflower Walk on June 4, 2016. We will begin at 8AM from the Burger King parking lot near the corner of East Colonial Drive and Alafaya Trail and drive to our destinations, observing some species of orchids along the way. Our first destination will be Fort Christmas Historical Park, with an ETA of 9AM. We will spend an hour walking the park and observing the Florida Butterfly Orchid (Encyclia tampensis) in flower and another surprise epiphytic orchid species as well.

We plan to arrive at Orlando Wetlands Park around 10AM and hike along the trails there to see what we may. We should catch more Butterfly Orchids, Greenfly Orchids, and our mystery orchid there, along with many other interesting botanical species. We plan on wrapping up by noon at the latest.

Where to meet: Burger King near corner of East Colonial Drive and Alafaya Trail, Orlando, FL. Address: 11834 E Colonial Dr, Orlando, FL 32826. Click here for map.
What we will see: at least four species of orchids, two of which will be in flower (Grass Pink Orchids and Florida Butterfly Orchids), lots of other interesting plants and flowers, and wildlife (last year we saw a hummingbird, a pygmy rattlesnake, lots of water birds, and a few alligators).
What to wear: long pants, close-toed shoes that you don't mind getting a bit muddy, loose shirt, hat (for sun protection).
What to bring: camera, insect repellant, plenty of water, snacks, rain poncho or umbrella (this is Florida, after all).
Length of hike: About 1/2 mile at Orlando Wetlands Park. About 1/4 mile at Fort Christmas Historical Park.
Ruggedness of hike: Occasional tree roots, occasional mud. Not wheelchair or handicapped friendly. We plan on taking a leisurely hike, however, so it should not be particularly strenuous.

Here is my contact information, in case you get delayed and need to find out where we are at the present time:
Cell Number: 321-356-8671 (call or text)
E-mail address: floridanativeorchids@gmail.com.

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Ghost Orchid's Islander Cousin

The genus Dendrophylax, which includes the Florida Ghost Orchid (Dendrophylax lindenii), is rather widespread throughout the Caribbean.  One easier-to-grow, but slightly less impressive, plant in this genus is Dendrophylax funalis, hailing from Jamaica.  The plants consist of a rather conspicuous, leafless growing stem with a number of gray-green roots which radiate out from this stem. Flowering stems also emerge from this growing stem, typically in the winter into spring.

The flowers bear some similarity to their Floridian cousin, lacking the long tails on the lip, bearing a shorter spur, and having medium-green tepals. Flower size is slightly smaller as well. However, just like D. lindenii, these flowers are fragrant at night, having a fragrance somewhat a mix of freshly sliced apples and fresh mushrooms.

This species is more forgiving than other members of its genus, requiring culture similar to that of many Vanda orchids - moderate water, occasional fertilizer, and medium-bright light. It is also more available in cultivation than D. lindenii, so it is a good way to get one's feet wet in leafless orchid culture before trying the harder-to-grow Floridian species.

Here is a photo of a recent flower on my cultivated Dendrophylax funalis:

Dendrophylax funalis

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Helping Victims of Sex Trafficking: The Porch Light and the #ShineALight Challenge

One cause that our family has become keenly aware of, and far more concerning than the loss of our natural ecosystems harboring native plants and animals, is the issue of human trafficking. Before not too long ago, we were not aware how prevalent this issue is, especially in central and southern Florida, which are major hubs for human trafficking, specifically sex trafficking. This is not a problem that occurs in faraway places like Thailand and Guyana, but one that occurs here in the United States. According to HumanTrafficking.org, "It is estimated that 14,500 to 17,500 people, primarily women and children, are trafficked to the U.S. annually."

The Porch Light (click to visit their website) is a ministry founded by the Florida Baptist Children's Homes to provide a safe haven for child victims of domestic sex trafficking here in central Florida. Quoting from their website:

Even at this moment, there is a young girl falling victim to the dark world of sex trade.

A predator is gaining her trust, maybe a “friend” she met online. Every year, there are as many as 300,000 children like her in the U.S. who are at risk of being sexually exploited. Many of these girls are being prostituted and face the threat of rape, STDs and even death. The Porch Light is helping these girls begin a new life. We are also working to prevent more innocent children from becoming victims while predators financially profit.

It’s simple, really. Our light will shine until every young girl who has been victimized by sex trafficking is rescued, restored and set free. Similar to parents who leave the porch light on waiting for their daughter to return, our faith-based program symbolizes the love of Christ – a light that shines so bright and a love and peace that transforms lives.

Now, lives are changing because of The Porch Light. Girls stay in the safe home for 9-12 months, depending on individual and specific needs. The safe home is at an undisclosed location for the protection and security of the victims and is staffed by a director, mental health counselor and female caregivers. Each girl has her own bedroom and bathroom within a residential suite.

In addition to providing necessary care to victims, The Porch Light also includes sex trafficking prevention and advocacy efforts. The Porch Light representatives partner with law enforcement to educate in schools, churches and community groups to prevent more girls from becoming victims of the growing sex trade.


I was made aware of The Porch Light by a post that former FSU (my alma mater) head coach Bobby Bowden had posted to Facebook, asking folks to consider donating to this worthy cause. I had noticed listed on their web site that one of the practical needs of the girls was nicely furnished rooms, including wall decor.



It just so happened that we had a number of our native orchid canvas prints left over from the last show. My wife, Joy, got in touch with Lynn Barna, administrative assistant at the Porch Light, with the intent to donate these canvases. They were more than grateful to receive our gift--it warms my heart to know that my photos might in some small way make a girl's room feel a little more like home as she recovers from the awful abuse of sexual exploitation.

Lynn Barna, Joy, and myself and one of the canvases we are donating to The Porch Light.


Now I would like to challenge you to Shine a Light on the darkness of child sexual exploitation. Follow this link: https://theporchlight.org/shine-a-light-challenge and consider how you can give (even a small gift of $5) to the cause of helping young victims of sexual exploitation in their process of recovery.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Wall Calendars! or Christmas and Other Holiday Gift Ideas Featuring Florida's Orchids - Part 2

Wall calendars are always a great way to share beautiful photographs of Florida's wild orchids with loved ones.  Proceeds go to helping our continued efforts to keep up our educational websites and add additional material, taken from numerous field trips per year to observe and photograph orchids in the wild all over the state of Florida.  This effort is entirely funded from our pockets and from proceeds from merchandise sales and speaker fees when giving presentations at orchid societies, etc.  Our websites are free to use and continue to be a source of education and advocacy for our native orchids.  I regularly receive e-mails from folks who find orchids in the wild and request identification. We also regularly donate photos for use in educational displays, orchid society newsletters, and educational websites.

So far, we have never had any advertising on our blog or website, and that is what we continue to hope to do into the future.

We have four different calendars to choose from this year. Clicking an image below will take you to the on-line store where those calendars are available. Each calendar is $19.99 plus applicable taxes and shipping.

First up, we have our most popular calendar to date, the Florida's Endangered Orchids calendar, featuring 12 photographs of orchids from Florida's endangered orchid list, including the rare, elusive and famous Ghost Orchid.





Next, we have our highly prized "Orchids of Peninsular Florida" calendar, featuring native and naturalized species found growing in the central to southern portions of our state.





Next, we have our original and very popular calendar, updated for 2016 - Florida's Native Orchids, featuring many orchids photographed in northern Florida.





Finally, we have our second ever calendar release, Florida's Wild Orchids, also updated for 2016. This calendar features twelve new photos of orchid species ranging throughout the state, including one naturalized species, the Soldier or Lawn Orchid.





We wish you a joyous Advent season from Florida's Native and Naturalized Orchids.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Christmas and Other Holiday Gift Ideas Featuring Florida's Orchids - Part 1

The Holiday season is upon us, and while you could purchase all sorts of things for your loved ones from Ugly Christmas Ties to a Shark Laser Pointer, you can better show your loved ones you care about them (and the environment) by purchasing products featuring Florida's lovely native orchids. Proceeds from the sale of these products go toward orchid and native plant conservation efforts, as well as upkeep on our myriad websites educating folks on our natural treasures here in Florida.

These products are assembled here in America through our product distributor, Cafe Press.

So, for the next few posts over the next few days, we will be featuring gift ideas that we have put together featuring my award-winning photography of Florida's native and naturalized orchids.

First up, we have a number of products that we have commissioned featuring Florida's iconic orchid, the Butterfly Orchid (Encyclia tampensis).  It is one of the most commonly seen orchids from central to southern Florida, growing happily on various hardwoods, conifers, and even the occasional palm tree.

Click on the picture below to visit our Cafe Press shop featuring all sorts of products (t-shirts, pajamas, sweatshirts, hoodies, calendars, bumper stickers, gift cards, etc) graced with one of our most lovely orchid species:

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

A Compendium of American Orchids

FTD has put together an awesome graphic showing a number of orchid genera and how they are related to each other.  As you may know, the Orchid Family (Orchidaceae) is the largest plant family, consisting of some 25,000 different species.  The orchids are also incredibly diverse in size, shape, color, etc., with flowers ranging from microscopic to the size of dinner plates.

Within this very large group of plants, we find a number of Subfamilies, Tribes and Subtribes, that link together plants with similar characteristics--both plant and flower structure.  

This can be quite confusing to many, so the graphic FTD has produced really helps to visualized the linkages between these different types of orchids.  Here it is, in all its glory:

Produced by FTD.com.

A Compendium of American Orchids


Be sure to click on the image to visit the FTD blog site.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Winners of the 2015 Florida Wildflower Photography Contest Announced

The winners of this year's Florida Wildflower Photography Contest have been announced, and one of my photos took Honorable Mention (effectively third place).  

Here is my award-winning photo:


Thank you to everyone for voting for this photo during the public vote phase of the contest.  Here is the link to see all the winners:

Florida Wildflower Photography Contest 2015 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Recent Speaking Engagement - Volusia County Orchid Society

I recently spoke at the Volusia County Orchid Society on August 19th, 2015.  Thank you so much to the society for hosting me.


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