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Monday, August 11, 2014

This is one Ghost Thousands of People Believe in!


Every year there is a stir of excitement when the Ghost Orchids bloom at the Corkscrew Sanctuary in Naples, Florida. Here’s a quote from their web site:

 “Drawing attention from near and far as the largest ghost orchid discovered so far.  It has delighted us every year since its discovery with multiple bloomings throughout the summer.  It has been in bloom since late June this year producing 20 flowers by the end of July and so far three of these first flowers were pollinated resulting in 3 new seed pods!

“On July 23 R.J. Wiley photographed the Super Ghost which showed that the orchid had formed many new buds, and on August 9th he photographed it again with 11 flowers. The Orchid typically produces flowers on and off throughout the summer.”

(the ghosts appear to have legs; looking like frogs!)
Because of all the attention, artists have been adding the orchid to their jewelry and print designs creating series and themes. The white ghost has become quite a celebrity. People are flocking to the area to see what has now been dubbed the “Super” Ghost Orchid. And who can blame them with news write-ups like these from the Naples Daily News (7/09/09):

"People are fascinated by orchids, and the ghost orchid is one of the rarest specimens," said Ed Carlson, executive director of Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. "The appeal of the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary ghost orchid is that it is visible from our public boardwalk, and this particular plant has a history of displaying multiple flowers at once and blooming multiple times in succession, which gives people more of a chance to get to Naples and see it.

“The ghost orchid (Polyrrhiza lindenii) is an extremely rare, epiphytic orchid that grows without leaves on the trunks of trees in a small concentrated area of Southwest Florida. The plants are usually only visible to intrepid adventurers who must hike through hip deep water in the area's cypress, pop ash and pond apple sloughs to reach them. The ghost orchid, preyed upon by poachers, was the subject of bestselling author Susan Orlean's book The Orchid Thief and the subsequent movie Adaptation.”

According to Wickipedia “The ghost orchid is native to Florida, Cuba and the Bahamas. Other common names include palm polly and white frog orchid.

Pollination is done by the giant sphinx moth, the only local insect with a long enough proboscis to pollinate the flowers and access the extremely long nectar spur. In this regard it may be said to be the America's answer the Madagascar  orchid  Angraecum sesquipedale, which led Charles Darwin to predict that a long-tongued species of moth would be found to fertilize it. Years later the moth responsible was discovered: Morgan's hawk moth Xanthopan morgani. The larvae of the giant sphinx moth feed on Annona glabra (pond apple), the same trees the ghost orchid is typically associated with.[6]

YouTube Video showing giant sphinx moth pollinating a ghost orchid.