Monday, August 15, 2011

A Marvel of Miniaturization - Dendrophylax porrectus

Here in central Florida, the diminutive leafless orchid, Dendrophylax porrectus (known commonly as the Jingle Bell Orchid or Needleroot Orchid), begins its blooming. Known previously as Harrisella porrecta, this species was reassigned to Dendrophylax following a molecular genetic study that placed it squarely within that genus. It does seem to defy logic, though, that this species with one of the smallest orchid flowers in Florida is closely akin to one of the largest-flowered species in our state--the ghost orchid.






These flowers really are remarkable in how they replicate the orchid flower structure in such a small package of just a few thousand cells (you can see the individual plant cells in the upper of the two images above), as opposed to the millions of cells that comprise larger orchid flowers. Amazingly enough, these miniscule marvels produce a potent night fragrance, not unlike baby powder mixed with a bit of a grassy undernote.

This species is an inhabitant of small twigs of cypress, eastern red cedar, pop ash, pond apple, and occasional old citrus groves. After flowering, the seed pods expand to become one of the most conspicuous aspects of this plant, turning a deep brownish orange prior to dehiscing. But even with all these hints, they will still be notoriously hard to find.

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 <<<

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Out of Africa - a Mystery



It is fairly clear where the African Spotted Orchid, Oeceoclades maculata (pronounced Ee-see-oh-klad-eez mack-you-lat-ah), originated. What is less clear is how it got here in the state of Florida. This is one of our most frequently encountered naturalized orchids, second to the Lawn Orchid (Zeuxine strateumatica), making its home equally well in the edges of moist swamps and under our landscaping. Its habitat seems to be expanding rapidly from southern Florida into central Florida and perhaps beyond.




Read more about this mysterious visitor from far away lands on the Florida Native Orchids website:

>>> Oeceoclades maculata profile page <<<

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Coalition for Orchid Species Symposium, recap

This past Sunday, I spoke at the Coalition for Orchid Species symposium at Fairchild Tropical Gardens in Coral Gables, FL. This is a truly great event, and well worth it if you can attend next year. We had five speakers, including myself, covering topics as diverse as bifoliate Cattleyas, Catasetinae, Phalaenopsis species, Dendrobiums, and, of course, Florida's wild orchids. All of the vendors had plants for sale, and Greg Allikas and myself sold prints of our photographs. In addition, I had greeting cards and t-shirts featuring various of our native orchids, which sold very well. My sales were quite good, but the plant vendors literally had stuff flying off the tables...this is a good program for both speakers and attendees alike. Below is a snapshot of our sales table. I am hoping to use this new display to visit various orchid shows in the central to south-central Florida region.

The other speakers at this symposium were excellent. Peter Lin began with his presentation on Phalaenopsis species. You can tell that he loves his plants like a doting father. Greg Allikas then did his informative talk on bifoliate Cattleyas, elucidating the differences between four different pairs of often confused species. This was accompanied, of course, with his gorgeous photography that I have often considered an inspiration for my own.

I was the third speaker, giving my presentation on native orchids: Orchids in Our Backyard - Florida's Wild Orchids. Pressed for time, I had time to show only photographs of four species toward the end of the presentation to spend the last few remaining minutes discussing the ghost orchid. If you saw the presentation at the symposium and you want to hear the full presentation on those species we glossed over, be sure to invite me to your society and you'll get the whole presentation.

Roy Tokunaga gave his presentation on Dendrobiums, which was quite informative, as well as lovely to view. One of the big take-away pieces of information from his talk was that a fertilizer with a good dose of calcium (or calciferous water) and magnesium is important for adequate blooming, not only of Dendrobium, but other orchids as well. Finally, Fred Clarke gave a presentation on various species of Catasetinae - Catasetum, Mormodes, and Cycnoches. These are some of the most mechanically complex, bizarre, and interesting orchid species...a group that I have had a high degree of interest in for a long time.

The food was delicious and well worth the price of admission all by itself. Below is my eldest daughter, Ariel, manning the sales table at the symposium. By the way, I hope Roy and Peter wear their t-shirts often and show off the lovely orchids that Florida has to offer.



On the way back home to Orlando, we decided to take the 'scenic route' across Alligator Alley through the Everglades and Big Cypress Swamp. Little did we know that the tensioner pully for our van was on the verge of breaking, taking out our serpentine belt and a few hoses with it on the last few western miles of AA. Well, alas, there went all the proceeds from the show and then some to get the van fixed. I guess you win some, you lose some...usually not on the same day, though.

This story does have a happier ending...covered in the blog post below.

Ghost Whispering

With our large van out of commission on the south side of Naples, FL after leaving the COS symposium, we were able to convince my eldest son, Josh, to come pick us up. This made for a rather harrowing early morning ride back to Orlando with two rather tired drivers (Josh and myself) taking tandem shifts to get us back. The van still in Naples, we had it towed to a nearby shop where they proceeded to repair it in our absence.

This, of course, meant that we had to go retrieve it once it had been fixed. So, Josh, Timothy (my 2nd oldest son) and I made the trip back down to Naples yesterday. Since we were already so close to the Fakahatchee Strand, Tim and I decided to press on to the swamp while Josh headed back to finish studying for finals coming up. I probably would get an award for evil dad of the day trying to convince Josh to postpone his studies and join us in the Fak...alas, he is too diligent of a student!

Now, I knew that this is late in the season to find blooming ghost orchids (Dendrophylax lindenii)...and a check of our usual haunts turned up bloomless plants. I had lost almost all hope when I followed my maps to one final plant seen on several trips before. This is the same plant showing a double bloom on my ghost orchid gallery page.

As I sighted up the trunk of the tree, my eyes were met with one of the last ghost orchid flowers of the season. I pointed this out to Tim, whose audible sigh let me know that he was experiencing that 'first ghost orchid in the wild' feeling. I had experienced this to some extent when seeing the ghost orchid at Corkscrew Swamp, but even moreso when I had seen my first flower only a few feet out of reach in the middle of the deep swamp.

It was a good thing I had my Canon 70-300 mm telephoto lens this day, as about 30 feet of stifling, mosquito-laden air separated me from my prize. We stayed there for roughly an hour, photographing the flower every time the light was good and the breeze was light. Here is a photo from this day...the day Tim whispered a sigh of awe at seeing his first wild ghost.

Coming to a town near you

With the new year, I have resumed giving talks at orchid societies, native plant societies, garden clubs, and the like. I had a great time speaking recently to the Martin County Native Plant Society, the St. Augustine Orchid Society, the Seminole County Native Plant Society, the Jacksonville Native Plant Society, the Marion County Native Plant Society, the Venice Area Orchid Society, the Jupiter-Tequesta Orchid Society, and the Coalition for Orchid Species Symposium, giving my presentation 'Orchids in Our Backyard: Florida's Wild Orchids'. This presentation has been very well received where it has been presented.

I also presented my new presentation
'Orchids in Our Backyard: Florida's Wild Orchids - Part II' at the Tampa Bay Orchid Society and the Central Florida Orchid Society. Featuring a new cast of characters taken from Florida's wild lands, this presentation is also garnering rave reviews.

Check the calendar at the end of this blog page to see when I might be speaking in a town near you.
If you are part of a plant society or garden club and would like me to come speak, I generally like to do one engagement a month, and I still have openings in November through December. Please E-MAIL ME if you are interested.

I'll be at the following places over the coming months:

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Butterfly Orchid - a Florida Icon on a Tee

We have just released a new t-shirt featuring Florida's popular and iconic orchid, Encyclia tampensis (common name: Florida Butterfly Orchid). I am wearing this tee-shirt right now, and I must say that it is quite lovely, if I do say so myself. The shirt itself features an entire plant with multiple flowers in the background and a closeup of a single flower in the foreground. It features both the common and scientific names of the plant, so it is both educational and beautiful to look at.

Florida Butterfly Orchid (Encyclia tampensis) t-shirt

It is available in all sizes from Small to 3XL. Click the following link to go to my Cafe Press store:

Florida Butterfly Orchid Tees at Cafe Press


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Snowy Orchid (Platanthera nivea) - Reprise

Photographs taken over 'classic black' with my new Canon Digital Rebel T3i:



Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Corkscrew Swamp Ghost Orchid in Bloom

I have just been informed that the Corkscrew Swamp ghost orchid is in flower with seven flowers presently.
http://www.corkscrew.audubon.org/
.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sometimes, one must travel far...

...to find that orchid to photograph. In this case, our travels took us into southern Georgia to find Platanthera nivea in flower. The Florida localities that I tried came up empty, but it seems that these are running a little late this year.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

First Publication Cover!

The reason I go out into the field to photograph Florida's wild orchids is because they interest me and I hope to share this interest with others, and this is its own reward. When one of my photographs is chosen for publication, I am honored and humbled that someone has considered using my work. Recently, I was approached to submit a photo of a Florida native orchid for use for the cover of the Florida State Horticultural Society Proceedings. After submitting several photos, we settled on a photo of "Miguel's ghost orchid", an orchid discovered by the late Miguel Urquia in a deep nook in the Fakahatchee Strand, that had four flowers open at once (I photographed it a few days before the final bud opened). They liked the photo so much, they wanted to use an additional photo for the back cover. Here are the two photos that appear on the front and back cover of the 2010 proceedings of the FSHS:

Front Cover:



Back Cover:



In celebration of this publication, I will be making limited edition prints of the photo of Miguel's ghost available for purchase at upcoming speaking engagements.

You can click here to go to the 2010 proceedings website.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

It's Not Easy Being Green, Or Is It?



I recently came across a population of one of our more common orchids, Habenaria repens, in a wet ditch in the Orlando area. Known by the common name of 'Water Spider Orchid', plants are notoriously difficult to see even when in full flower, owing to the fact that the plant, along with its minuscule flowers (which are a bit over 1 cm wide), is completely green to yellow-green.

This might cause you to wonder, "How on earth would a completely green flower stand out enough from its background vegetation to be seen by a pollinator?" Just FYI, these flowers are not self-pollinating. It's easy enough to see a flash of pink, red, purple, blue, or buttery yellow against the sea of background vegetation and hone in on the location of a flower, even from a fair distance, but green just blends in with all the other greens that you see. The answer is that it's all a matter of timing.

Walk by the same roadside ditch at night and the flowers will be even less observable by the sense of sight. But even our ridiculously dull sense of smell will pick up a distinct, sweet fragrance wafting over the shallow water. A night flying moth, with a much stronger sense of smell, will be able to find these flowers from miles away, provided that it is not misled by all of our 'artificial moons' (electric lights of various kinds) that interfere with its sense of lunar navigation. Following this stream of sweet odor, these vampires of the Lepidoptera make their way to their quarry. Inserting their probosces into the spur-like nectary that is formed by the back of the lip, they drink sweet nectar from the last few millimeters at the end of the spur. This reward is not, however, offered without its price. The eyes of the insects engage the tips of the pollen-bearing structures (known as pollinia) which are coated with a sticky glue. Thus, when the insect withdraws, its eyes now bear the pollinia to carry them to the next flower. It's a dance between insect and flower that goes largely unobserved, unless you happen to shine a flashlight on a flowering stem at just the right moment.

This strategy of night-scented orchids is actually pretty common in Florida, although not all of them are green-flowered. Some flowers are brilliant white, which might make them more observable in the dim starlight or moonlight that reaches the inner recesses of the forests and swamps where many of these species make their homes. Here is a list of Floridian orchids that are known to be night-scented:

  • Dendrophylax lindenii
  • Dendrophylax porrectus
  • Epidendrum amphistomum
  • Epidendrum floridense
  • Epidendrum magnoliae
  • Epidendrum nocturnum
  • Habenaria macroceratitis
  • Habenaria odontopetala
  • Habenaria quinqueseta
  • Habenaria repens
  • Tipularia discolor
And here is a list of species that are likely night-scented as well, extrapolating from their inconspicuously colored flowers:
  • Epidendrum rigidum
  • Epidendrum strobiliferum
  • Habenaria distans
  • Platanthera flava
  • Platanthera clavellata
I would be interested to hear about anyone's experience around these species, whether or not they have a night fragrance as well.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Flowers of Early Summer

May in many areas of the northern hemisphere would be considered late spring. In central and southern Florida, it is decidedly summer-like already with temperatures in the 90s and a blazing sun that will burn your skin in a matter of minutes. Here are a few flowers that you might encounter in Florida at this time. It is by no means an exhaustive list, as many more species are in flower than just these...in fact, at any time of the year in Florida, as many as 40 species might be in flower somewhere in our wild areas. Click each thumbnail to go to the full profile page for the species on my website.

Grass Pink (Calopogon tuberosus)
Grass Pink Profile Page

Scarlet Ladies Tresses (Sacoila lanceolata)
Scarlet Ladies Tresses Profile Page

Florida Dancing Lady Orchid (Tolumnia bahamensis)
Florida Dancing Lady Orchid Profile Page

Water Spider Orchid (Habenaria repens)
Water Spider Orchid Profile Page

Spring Ladies Tresses (Spiranthes vernalis)
Spring Ladies Tresses Profile Page


Rose Pogonia (Pogonia ophioglossoides)
Rose Pogonia Profile Page

Florida Butterfly Orchid (Encyclia tampensis)
Florida Butterfly Orchid Profile Page


Monday, April 25, 2011

Website Updates - A New Milestone

The Florida's Native and Naturalized Orchids Website has reached a new milestone with 40 plant profiles in the gallery and 250 photos in total. Check it out by following the link below:

>>> The Florida Native Orchid Gallery Page <<<

Enjoy!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

A Few Weeks Too Late: Plants in Motion

It's no secret that my guiding passion in nature photography is botany...I love plants, especially orchids, but also plants in general. To that end, I set out often enough into the field hunting rare plants in their environment to photograph them and chronicle them for others to enjoy. Many wildlife photographers (folks I like to call 'faunists') tend to look down on this as "easy peasy lemon squeezie" work. They do not appreciate the complications a botanical photographer faces in the field...after all, they say, plants don't move, unlike that lion out on the African plains or that rare bird that would be spooked away had the photographer not spent hours sitting in a blind. To this I would beg to differ...plants do indeed move. They may not pick their roots up and transport themselves to a new location, but they are ever on the move nonetheless.

Take the scrub lupine for example. I was told a few weeks ago that these were in bloom, so one week ago, I set out to relocate some previously planted specimens near where my children and I volunteered to plant out new seedlings. When we arrived, we were met with bitter disappointment...all the flowers had finished, leaving a healthy stalk of developing seed pods...material for next year's seedling planting, I am sure. We headed to another nearby park where these were known to grow naturally. Again, not a flower was to be seen, where two or three weeks ago, we would have seen these in full flower. We will have to return earlier next year to catch these in flower. Plants in motion.



Many of the native orchids are the same way. Yo
u can pass by a location and not see a single plant as their developing buds blend in with the greenery. A few weeks later, all the flowers have finished and wilted to a deep brown color, again blending into the background vegetation. Unless you are there during the two week window when their flowers flushed a brilliant orange, you would never know that an orchid grew there. Plants in motion.

Several species of orchids further complicate our lives by having flowers that last for only one morning and wilt by afternoon...several species of Vanilla do this, as well as Triphora trianthophora and Triphora craigheadii. The latter two add insult to injury by synchronous blooming - every member of the colony will bloom on the same morning. Plants in motion.

Many of the rarer orchids and other plants in Florida exist in small populations in relatively inaccessible areas requiring many hours of driving and walking, often following vague directions to their locations. Plants in motion.

Finally, some of the rarest plants do indeed move. Whether by environmental catastrophes or the poacher's unscrupulous actions, known populations sometimes become entirely wiped out, only to have a new population discovered in a different area nearby, these new locations kept a closely guarded secret lest the same thing happen again. Or, perhaps, the last population of a species in Florida is wiped out for good, never to be seen again...we have twelve such orchid species that have not been seen for many years. Plants in motion.

So next time your admire that photograph of a rare plant, such as what might be seen in the native orchid gallery, linked to the giant 'View the Gallery' image at the top of this blog, keep in mind that the photographer may have spent many hours, if not days, weeks, months, or even years, hunting down this quarry and bringing you that photograph as he chases down plants ever in motion.


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Master of Disguise

This past weekend, while out on a photography trip, we came across this little girl hanging out on a Spring Ladies Tresses (Spiranthes vernalis) inflorescence. Spiders are often encountered on flowers of all sorts, mostly ambush predators like this Crab Spider and the Green Lynx Spider. They lie in wait for a hapless insect to come near them and then they pounce! These spiders are known to alter their coloration to match their surroundings and thus blend in. Imagine the next time you go to your refrigerator, a predator disguised as a salami pounces on you and eats you!



Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Old Man of the Swamp - Cigar Orchid (Cyrtopodium punctatum)

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 <<<

Friday, April 1, 2011

Florida's First Native Slipper Orchid?!

I have just received word from a fellow orchid photographer exploring in an undisclosed area (and one that will remain undisclosed) in South Florida that he has discovered what appears to be a colony of a species of Phragmipedium (or, who knows...a completely new genus?) growing deep in the swamps. The plants are presently in high bud. I will be heading down in the next week or two when the buds open...from the photos I've seen so far, there is already a splash of orange on the lips of the developing flowers....AND....they seem to have some rather packed-in petals similar to Phrag caudatum. So, colorful, and potentially long-petaled and growing in Florida? Who could ask for more?

This is really great news, as the whole slipper orchid clan has been completely unrepresented in Florida. There have been reports in the past of species of Cypripedium being found in the northern counties, but none have been substantiated.

More soon.

If you didn't realize this by now, this was an April Fools' Day joke.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

New Florida Orchid Book Available

My good friend and fellow nature and Florida orchid photographer, Rich Leighton, has just released a new 'coffee table' type book featuring many of his native orchid photos. I have not seen the book itself, but I have seen his photos, and they are fantastic. Here is a link where you can order the book:

http://www.floridanaturephotography.com/bookstore/

and here is a link to a brief promotional video he has made about it:

http://www.floridanaturephotography.com/blog/our-first-book-native-orchids-of-florida-is-now-available/

--Prem

Monday, February 28, 2011

A Giant of Liliputian Proportions - Pteroglossaspis ecristata

Pteroglossaspis ecristata is a plant of contradictions. While once fairly common in Florida, its population has declined in recent years, becoming much harder to find in flower. Its paper-thin leaves are reinforced with stiff veins, making them resemble a palmetto seedling. Its sometimes exceptionally tall flowering stems are capped with small flowers, each only 1 to 1.5 cm tall.


My son, Josh, admiring a tall flowering plant.

While inflorescences up to 5.5 feet (1.7 meters) are not unheard of, a more typical flowering stem height is 2 to 3 feet (0.7 to 0.9 meters) tall.



The flowers themselves are not extraordinarily attractive...perhaps more bizarre than anything else. Luer, in an illustration in his book, likens them to a number of turbaned Sikhs peering around the stem. Paul Martin Brown describes them as "green and black orchids on a stick". It is often hard to capture more than one or two flowers face-on in a photograph owing to how the flowers twist around the stem.



You can read more about this species here:

>> Pteroglossaspis ecristata information page <<

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Trail Tales (or Stuff I've Seen While Hunting For Orchids), Part 5

While out photographing orchids in the Florida panhandle, we found this lovely specimen growing in a roadside bog. This is the white-topped pitcher plant (Sarracenia leucophylla).



Pitcher plants are a type of carnivorous plant, trapping insects in a pool of liquid inside the hollowed-out leaves. The inside of the pitcher is waxy and covered with downward-pointing hairs that make it easy for an insect to fall in but difficult to get out. The pool of liquid contains digestive fluids that break down the insects into basic nutrients that the plants can absorb...nutrients that are generally lacking in the highly acidic bog soil where these plants grow.

The Importance of Being Earnest Observant

When I was a teenager, my mom and I would often take drives out into the Apalachicola National Forest or the Lake Talquin State Forest nearby just to see what could be seen. As we ran across interesting plants that we had not seen before, we would consult our guidebooks, as well as the resident botanist and herbarium director at Florida State University, Dr. Loran Anderson (now retired). We had established a good rapport with him and I especially would report any new orchid finds. I was able to help him obtain a few orchid specimens for his herbarium that he did not have, as well as establish new records for several species not seen before in Leon County - Zeuxine strateumatica, Platanthera flava, and Platanthera ciliaris.

I also remember running across a population of Spiranthes that resembled S. praecox, but the habit and blooming time of these was off (about a month too early and in woodlands, as opposed to open, wet areas). I had brought this to Dr. Anderson's attention on occasion, but never really pursued the matter further. About a decade later, Paul Martin Brown described this species formally as Spiranthes sylvatica, or the Woodland Ladies' Tresses.

Drat.

Fast forward to a year or two ago. My son, Josh, and I were photographing Malaxis spicata in an area near Ocala, FL. While out there, Josh brought to my attention a plant that had variegated leaves. I remember reading in Paul Martin Brown's Wild Orchids of Florida about a variegated Malaxis, so I chalked it up to another find of this form. I did photograph it, as it appeared interesting. When I consulted the book back at home, I realized that he had described a variegated form of Malaxis unifolia, not M. spicata. In other words, this was a form that had not yet been formally introduced to science! Thankfully, I was able to correlate the gps trail that our Garmin unit had recorded with the time stamp of the photograph, so we had an approximate locality for the plant. Upon our return, after about an hour of searching for it, we relocated the plant, put a colored flag on it, and covered it with a wire hanging basket to protect it from deer and hog browse.

We brought this plant to Paul's attention, and he formally described the variegated form of this species in the North American Native Orchid Journal in the August 2009 edition as Malaxis spicata forma variegata P.M. Brown, P. & J. Subrahmanyam forma nov. . You can view this journal on-line at the following link:

http://culturesheet.org/_media/users:nanoj:nanoj_15_1_.pdf

And here is the photograph of this newly described form that we saw that day:

Malaxis spicata fma variegata P. M. Brown, P & J Subrahmanyam

So, while I had missed out on the opportunity to bring an entirely new species to science, which would be, admittedly, much cooler, I did have the opportunity to bring a newly described form of an existing species to science. And, as I continue to head out into the field to photograph orchid species, who knows what might still be out there to discover?

As a footnote, a colleague of mine was out photographing the variegated Malaxis and discovered a plant nearby completely lacking the orange color in the flowers...in other words, an albescent form of the species. This form was also described in the same article and named after his daughter Morgan as Malaxis spicata forma morganiae P. M. Brown.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

A Truly Albino Grass Pink.

In this case, albino would mean a complete lack of the typical pink color. The orange-yellow in the psuedo-pollen bristles persists.



This is only the second time in my life that I've seen a grass pink this color. Below is a typical color form:



You can read more about this species on its profile page:
Grass Pink (Calopogon tuberosus)


Monday, February 14, 2011

Website Updates - a Septet of New Orchid Pages

I have updated the website with seven new orchid pages. In addition to the updates, I have added functionality to the gallery page to display a '**NEW**' beneath any orchid whose page has been added within the last two weeks. But, just so you don't have to go hunting for the '**NEW**' tags, here are the seven species added to the website (bringing the grand total to 36 species with 210 photos between them all):

Eulophia alta

Epidendrum amphistomum

Ionopsis utricularoides

Malaxis spicata

Malaxis unifolia

Spiranthes odorata

Tolumnia bahamensis

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Planting Scrub Lupines (Lupinus westianus var. aridorum)

On December 8, 2010, three of my sons (Timothy, Isaac, and Kenny) and I joined a volunteer group, along with a researcher from Bok Tower gardens, planting scrub lupine (Lupinus westianus var. aridorum) at Tibet Butler Nature Preserve in the Orlando, FL area. This lupine is endemic to central Florida, and is only known from a few isolated populations, so it is considered critically endangered. It is a biennial or short-lived perennial that bears racemes of pretty, purple flowers. Lupines are not orchids, but are members of the pea family--although they do share the trait of bilateral symmetry with the orchids.

Juliet Rynear, from Bok Tower Gardens, has been growing a number of seedlings of this plant in the hope of expanding its population -- volunteer groups have planted these out in several areas in central Florida, re-establishing populations where this plant has been known to grow historically, as well as creating new ones.

We met on a rather cool, sunny morning with a group of about 10 others and got straight to work, helping to plant 300-some-odd plants during the course of the morning. Here are some photos taken that day:


Plants in their peat pots.

Each has a blue flag and an "identity coin" with the individual's ID number...researchers have kept careful data on each seed as it was planted...where it came from, when it was planted, etc. so that the plants that successfully grow to maturity can be tracked.


Kenny planting a seedling.


Isaac planting a seedling.


Tim planting a seedling.


Seedling in its new home.


A more mature plant, planted a year or two ago. It should bloom in the next year.

You can learn more about this species via the following links:

http://www.fnai.org/FieldGuide/pdf/Lupinus_aridorum.pdf

http://hawthornhillwildflowers.blogspot.com/2010/01/scrub-lupine-lupinus-aridorum.html

http://www.centerforplantconservation.org/collection/cpc_viewprofile.asp?CPCNum=2693

http://www.florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/Plant.aspx?id=1243

We left a bit before all the seedlings were planted out in the hope of finding some Spiranthes longilabris still in flower in a wildlife management area several hours south. Alas, we found by sheer chance a few plants already bloomed out and in fruit, so better luck next year.

I will be back to photograph the lupines when it is their time to bloom this year.


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Two Native Orchid Related Articles

A couple of articles/websites came up on my Google news alerts regarding native orchids. I thought it might be nice to share:

Enjoy!

---Prem
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