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

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.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Recent Speaking Engagement - Treasure Coast Orchid Society, Vero Beach, FL

I spoke on Tuesday, August 4 at 7PM, at the Treasure Coast Orchid Society in Vero Beach, FL, giving my new, highly acclaimed presentation on Florida's Endangered Orchids - a survey of some of our rarer orchids, their habits, habitat, and current status. The society's web site can be found here:

The address for the meeting was:

Indian River Garden Center, 2526 17th Avenue, Vero Beach, Fl 32960

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Orange Fringed Orchid (Platanthera ciliaris) in Bloom

Here is a video I shot recently in north-central Florida showing the Orange (Yellow) Fringed Orchid (Platanthera ciliaris) in full bloom.  It is the first of 16 videos I have on my channel depicting our native orchids.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Recent Speaking Engagement - Martin County Orchid Society on July 23, 2015 at 7:00 PM

I recently gave my new presentation "Florida's Endangered Orchids" at this society meeting--a discussion of some of Florida's rarest orchids: their habitat, their present status, and what is being done to protect them.

The presentation was very well received.

Recent Speaking Engagement - Gulf Coast Orchid Alliance, Naples, FL on July 16, 2015 at 6:30 PM

I gave my new presentation "Florida's Endangered Orchids", a discussion of some of Florida's rarest orchids: their habitat, their present status, and what is being done to protect them at this society meeting recently.

It was very well received, with compliments such as "this was the best presentation I have seen in two years of being here".

Monday, May 25, 2015

Report from the Field: The Green Scarlet Ladies' Tresses

EDIT:In the intervening time since this was posted last year, we created a video showing this form and the typical form in flower in Florida. You can view that here:

I was first introduced to Scarlet Ladies' Tresses (Sacoila lanceolata) through Carl Luer's epic work, The Native Orchids of Florida, when I was a teenager.  This species was known then as Spiranthes lanceolata with three variants - var. lanceolata (typical variety), var. paludicola (Fakahatchee variety), and var. luteoalba (the green, albino, variety).  I had wanted to see these in person for many years, but never managed to be in the central Florida area, where they grow most abundantly, during flowering.

As an adult, I became acquainted with an individual who had a number of cultivated plants of this species in his greenhouse and he sent me a plant, which flowered a few years later, finally acquainting me personally with these beautiful flowers.

Fast-forward to a few years later when we made a visit to the Redland Orchid Festival.  On the drive down, we spotted colonies of this plant growing along the Florida Turnpike--my first introduction to wild plants of this species.  Even driving along at full speed, these plants were obvious enough to allow us to slow down and stop safely to observe them.

I was introduced to the Fakahatchee variety on a trip to the Corkscrew Swamp in March.  Sadly, they were almost bloomed out, so they were not worth photographing.

This left var. luteoalba, the green form, now demoted to a form of the typical variety as S. lanceolata var. lanceolata fma. albidaviridis, as the only variety I had not seen. Searching for this plant, I visited many large colonies of the typical variety, hoping to find a few stray green plants, to no avail.  Sometimes the green form would turn up in image sets of other Florida nature photographers, but their locations were kept a closely guarded secret.

Finally, this year, one of my Facebook friends, Jake Antonio Heaton, posted some pictures of the green variety and was willing to divulge the secret location of these plants.

I drove down to the location the next morning.

Interestingly enough, their location was not in some secretive meadow, but right along a quite busy highway, clustered in with red forms of the species.  While the red form is shockingly conspicuous, the green form is just the opposite, blending in quite well with the surrounding grasses.  True to Luer's description of this form, the plants all seemed to be in full bloom, while most of the red form plants nearby were still a week away from flowering. Further down the road, however, I did encounter large blooming clusters of the red form.

Here is a typical mixed colony of plants, red and green forms.  Note how the green forms are almost invisible:

Here is a pair of flowering plants blooming closely together:

Here is single plant in flower:

Here is the same plant isolated with a black backdrop:

Here is a very tall plant, with roughly twice the flower count of a typical plant of the species:

All told, I saw 19 green form plants and about as many red form plants at this colony.

Driving east from this location, I found many large colonies of the typical form of the species, but there were no green form plants among these colonies.  I eventually had to turn around and head back westward to drive home.  Just about a mile to the east of the initial colony of green plants, I found another cluster of green plants along with a few red ones.  Scanning the other side of the road, I found many flower spikes of the standard form still in high bud.

So, finally, after many years of searching, I have managed to see and photograph the green form of this species in the wild.  Many thanks to Jake Antonio Heaton for sharing this location with me.

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