Friday, December 26, 2008

Baby Orchid (Dendrophylax porrectus/Harrisella porrecta)

While out hiking Flagler trail (which inspired the poem below 'Among Giants'), I approached a tree a bit off the main trail in the hunt for Jingle Bell Orchids (Dendrophylax porrectus - aka Harrisella porrecta). As I scanned the branches, I noticed a familiar sight...a number of small green shield-like leaves--each only 1-2 mm long--with emerging roots. I had found a number of newly germinated seedlings. This is the only leaf that the plant will have, as it rapidly grows into one of Florida's "leafless" orchids, bearing only small, scale-like leaf sheaths shielding a very abbreviated stem. The roots and flower spikes emerge directly from this stem and perform all the photosynthesis for this plant. Curiously, I found the seedlings before I found the "mama" plant on a nearby twig.

Here is a photo of one of the seedlings:

And here is a photo of what a "mama plant" looks like at this time of year:

And here is a photo of a plant in bloom back in September of last year:

The flowers are tiny, only about 3 mm across. Interestingly enough, they are strongly fragrant at night like many other angraecoids.

You can read more about this species on its profile page on the Florida Native and Naturalized Orchids site:

>>> Click to View Dendrophylax porrectus profile page <<<

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