Showing posts with label Shadow Witch (Ponthieva racemosa). Show all posts
Showing posts with label Shadow Witch (Ponthieva racemosa). Show all posts

Monday, November 8, 2010

Now Playing In a Swamp Near You and Bewitched, Part III

Now to bring the topic back to orchids (since, after all, this is an orchid-related blog). Late fall in north and central Florida usually does not have much to offer orchid-wise...most terrestrials are wrapping up for the year, storing whatever they can in their underground portions prior to the first below-freezing night, which usually does the above-ground parts in. Starting in October in northern Florida, and wrapping up in December in southern Florida, two common woodland species come into their own during this sparse time--Spiranthes odorata and Ponthieva racemosa, known by their common names as Fragrant Ladies' Tresses and the Shadow Witch Orchid. You can see some earlier posts of Shadow Witch flowers and plants to this blog under the titles Bewitched, Part I and Bewitched, Part II. Both are members of the subfamily Spiranthoideae and tribe Cranichideae, but the former is classified in subtribe Spiranthinae and the latter in subtribe Cranichidinae. Both have evergreen basal rosettes of leaves and grow in rather swampy areas and both reproduce vegetatively via runners, as well as sexually via flowers and seeds. Because of their vegetative reproductive habit, both can tend to form extensive colonies over time, although I have observed S. odorata as being a bit more aggressive in colony forming than P. racemosa Both species are pleasantly fragrant, with P. racemosa smelling faintly of citrus while S. odorata smells most strongly of vanilla scented baby powder.

Three of my children and I visited a well-known site for these species...this same general area is home to Malaxis spicata, Platythelys querceticola, Listera australis, and Corallorhiza wisteriana as well. I would not be surprised if Epidendrum magnoliae were found growing in the trees overhead. Here are some photographs taken of these two species:

Spiranthes odorata - three blooming plants

Spiranthes odorata - single inflorescence

Spiranthes odorata - flower closeup

Ponthieva racemosa - flower spike

Ponthieva racemosa - top-down view

Ponthieva racemosa - top-down view

Ponthieva racemosa - Semi top-down view

Ponthieva racemosa - flower closeup

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Bewitched, Part II

So, without further ado, here are the flowers of the shadow witch. These are flowers that I have wanted to see in person ever since seeing them in Luer's landmark book, The Native Orchids of Florida. First, we have the entire inflorescence. The flowers are about 1/2 inch (approx. 1 cm) across, ranging from whitish-cream to mint-green in color. They have a faint, citrusy fragrance.

and here is a flower close-up. Each individual flower is bent backwards to form a small landing platform. The lip faces inward toward the spike, with the petals and sepals forming a flat surface beneath the column with its curious tooth overlapping the small pollinia. All of the floral parts have a crystalline, sparkling texture. The ovaries and remainder of the flowering stem (as well as the backs of the flowers) are covered in fine hairs.

So, there you have a close-up view of these bewitching flowers.



Thursday, February 19, 2009

Bewitched, Part I

This past year was special for me, as I have gotten to see many orchid species in bloom in the wild that I have not seen before. One of these was Ponthieva racemosa, also known as the Shadow Witch Orchid. Oddly enough, I've run across plants of this species since I was a teenager, but had been unable to get back to the locality during the fall when this species is in bloom. The closest I had come was seeing a plant rescued from a lot under construction in a subdivision near Tom Brown Park in Tallahassee, but since the plant was in a pot, that didn't have quite the same impact.

While out hunting for other woodland species, rosettes of P. racemosa leaves show up frequently. They are easy to spot with their light green that, when the sunlight catches them just right, shimmer like satin. These are plants inhabiting moist, shady woodlands and floodplains, growing in areas that are surprisingly wet, but very infrequently under water (the floods after T.S. Fay were a rare exception, where large swaths of woods were inundated in the floodwaters).

In November, as I headed out to one park to photograph several species (and hybrids) of fall-blooming ladies' tresses, I finally found a few of these plants in flower. Cross one more orchid off the list. So, what did the flowers look like? Well, you'll have to wait until another blog post to see those.

Until next time...

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