Monday, June 29, 2009

Endemic to Florida - the rarest of the rare, Triphora craigheadii

Dr. Carl Luer, author of The Native Orchids of Florida, was first made aware of this orchid in the late 1950's. It was not until several years later that he found plants of this species in flower, after several unsuccessful attempts. Described by Luer in 1966 and named Triphora craigheadii after the late Dr. Frank Craighead, Sr., entomologist and botanist at the Everglades National Park, this orchid is only known from a few localities in central Florida (and one or two possible localities from southern Florida). It may grow in many places, but it is so small as to be virtually undetectable, quietly inhabiting the understory of the understory of mixed oak/pine/juniper forests, where it grows as a terrestrial or occasionally a lithophyte over the limestone underlayment where it makes its home. As a genus, Triphoras are often quite small. This species is a liliputian even among Triphoras. I have included an image below with a U.S. penny placed in the shot to give an idea of the sense of scale.

Triphora craigheadii

Triphora craigheadii

To make it even harder to find these plants, they only bloom during the last week of June and first week or two of July. Were it not for the guidance of a good friend, I would not have these photographs to present to you today. Look for an update to the Florida Native Orchids website within the next few weeks with more information on this species.

Triphora craigheadii

Triphora craigheadii
Enjoy!
---Prem
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