This is the story of the Old Man of the Swamp.
Years ago, perhaps around the same time that this photograph was taken of a cartload of orchids cribbed from the swamps (including Cigar Orchids, Mule-ear Oncidiums, and Dollar Orchids - Cyrtopodum punctatum, Trichocentrum undulatum, and Prosthechea boothiana, respectively),
a small cigar orchid (Cyrtopodium punctatum) began its tenuous existence on a buttonwood somewhere deep in the Everglades. As time went on, its forest grew, never too tall, as this was a harsh environment-- shielding this plant from unfriendly eyes. In time, long after these orchid collectors had left, it became a large specimen, engulfing the fork in the tree that it called home.
Eventually, however, the winds of Hurricane Wilma came barreling through the 'glades, knocking down the surrounding trees and killing the tree that this orchid calls home, reducing it to a bare stump crowned with the orchid. Now an old man, yet hale and hearty, it continues to offer up its fragrant saffron-and-crimson flowers, each about an inch across, to the busying bumblebees that visit it in hopes of collecting nectar.
We, too, come here to its ancient ruin of a home, in a different era where some folks are more apt to leave plants be than to try to collect them, destined to die in some garden--especially considering the fact that this plant grows on federally protected property. We visit it in its waning years, for, surely, its host stump cannot forestall wind, weather, and the decay of time forever. One day, hopefully many years from now, it will plunge into the brackish water below and meet its final demise, but not before it has shed many dust-like seeds into the surrounding forest still standing...these seeds may become new seedlings, and if left undisturbed by wind, water, men, and the threat of a rising ocean, they may become massive plants like this old man--destined to repeat his life cycle and continue the existence of his kind well into the future.
You can view my Cowhorn/Cigar Orchid information page at the following link:
>>> Cowhorn/Cigar Orchid Information Page <<<
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