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.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Florida Wild Orchid / Wildflower Walk!

On June 6, we hosted a wild orchid / wildflower walk in the east Orlando area (Ft. Christmas Park and Orlando Wetlands Park).  16 People attended, and we had a great time seeing Florida Butterfly Orchids, Grass Pink Orchids, and Water Spider Orchids all in flower.  In addition, we saw plants of the Greenfly Orchid and Jingle Bell Orchid (these should be blooming in August).  In addition, we saw many other wildflowers, a hummingbird visiting some Tillandsia flowers high in a tree, and a Dusky Pygmy Rattlesnake.

Much fun was had by all! 

We will try to do this again in 2016 in the first week of June.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Sometimes Lightning Strikes Twice (or, In This Case, Three Times)

Just a few weeks after finding the previous white Grass Pink, I revisited the location of a previously known white-flowered plant, to find a perfect threesome of pure-white flowers! Well, pure white except for the orange-yellow color in the hair bristles.

I was particularly happy that the positioning of the flowers allowed the focal plane to neatly bisect all three bristles of hairs, allowing each to be in sharp focus. A pretty rare shot, indeed!

For a refresher on how Grass Pinks are pollinated, which is quite fascinating in its own right, watch the video below:


Tuesday, May 5, 2015

White Grass Pink! or Calopogon tuberosus fma. albiflorus

For the fourth time, recently, in my 30+ years of observing Florida native orchids in the wild, I have come across the albus (white) form of the Grass Pink Orchid (Calopogon tuberosus). Photos taken with natural light and an off-shoe camera flash unit. Enjoy this rare sight that few naturalists have ever seen.

First, the flower, taken with natural light (very late afternoon).

Next, taken with an off-shoe flash, allowing a faster shutter speed and a lower aperture for more depth of field.

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