Orchids of the Strand

Orchids of the Strand


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Friends of Fakahatchee: Dedicated to financial and volunteer support to preserve the unique ecology and cultural heritage of Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park and educate the public about its importance.

Fakahatchee’s Orchids

Dennis Giardina, Everglades Region Biologist for Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission and Ghost orchid (Dendrophylax lindenii).

Volunteer Dino Barone enjoys the discovery of a Ghost orchid (Dendrophylax linden) in the Fakahatchee.

Forty-seven orchid species are found in the Fakahatchee. The Fakahatchee’s relative orchid richness is due in part to the truly tropical nature of its frost-free central slough. Most temperate orchid species are terrestrial, but about half of the Fakahatchee’s are epiphytic, reflecting their tropical origin. This is why Fakahatchee Strand is often referred to as the orchid capital of North America, or sometimes even as the northern most island of the Caribbean. Read more about why Fakahatchee is home to orchids on our Natural History page.

It is unfortunate that our fascination with orchids has resulted in their decline. “Poachers” of rare orchids have reduced the diversity and abundance of the orchids in the Fakahatchee strand. For example, you may be aware that the Fakahatchee’s rare ghost orchid was the subject of the book and movie, “The Orchid Thief.” However, there is hope for their protection now and in the future with help from the Friends of Fakahatchee. Volunteers are trained to record and report suspicious activity and the Friends fund the installation and maintenance of a network of hidden cameras to guard against illegal plant removal.

You can learn more about the protection of this beautiful and fragile species via an article and short film on photographing them which appeared on NewsPress.com in July 2014.

Download the Florida Park Service Orchid List

 

Video: Meet the Orchids of the Fakahatchee

Writer/Producer: Chelle Koster Walton

Take a virtual tour of the orchids of the Fakahatchee. This video provides an overview of the preserve’s orchids including the infamous ghost orchid – hear about the real-life history that inspired “The Orchid Thief.”

 

Orchid Restoration

Matt Richards pollinates Cigar orchid (Cyrtopodium puntatum)from 15 feet up.

Matt Richards pollinates Cigar orchid (Cyrtopodium puntatum) from 15 feet up.

Cigar orchid blooms. Photo by Brad Wilson.

Cigar orchid blooms. Photo by Brad Wilson.

In 2007, Park Biologist Mike Owen and Dennis Giardina, Everglades Region Biologist for Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, entered into collaboration with Matt Richards from Atlanta Botanical Garden to experimentally restore rare and endangered orchid species at Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park.

Restoration of the cigar orchid, Cyrtopodium punctatum is quite a success story.  Once propagated and brought to size, the Friends helped disperse the baby orchids throughout the park to help ensure their survival. For the story of this heroic work, read the Cigar Orchid Restoration article. Restoration efforts continue.


Lost and Found in Cuba – The Story of Fakahatchee’s Lost Orchids

Two of Fakahatchee’s “lost orchids,” the rat-tail orchid, Bulbophyllum pachyrachis, and Acuña’s Epidendrum, Epidendrum acunae were extripated from the Preserve—hence Florida—by collectors. What once occurred in the Fakahatchee is no longer.

The closest, wild populations of those two species occur in Western Cuba.

Mike Owen and Dennis Giardina traveled to Cuba in 2013 to attend an international orchid conservation conference they co-presented a paper in Spanish and English on the Fakahatchee cigar orchid restoration project, and made a very fortuitous find.

They found Fakahatchee’s “lost orchids” growing at Soroa Botanical Garden, the site of the conference. There were multiple individuals of both species that were grown from seed collected from wild plants in the Rosary Mountains Biosphere Preserve.

Follow the continuing saga of Dennis’ attempts to secure viable seeds from Cuba; we are certain he will eventually succeed and bring back the “lost orchids” to the Fakahatchee.

Orchid Gallery

  • Ionopsis utricularioides, Delicate orchid. Photo by J. Staton

  • Habenaria distans, False Water-spider. Photo by J. Staton

  • Eulophia alta, Wild coco. Photo by J. Staton

  • Epidendrum nocturnum, Night orchid. Photo by Rose Flynn

  • Epidendrum difforme, Umbelled orchid. Photo by J. Staton

  • Epidendrum anceps, Brown orchid

  • Epidendrum anceps, Brown orchid. Photo by Rose Flynn

  • Encyclia tampensis, Butterfly orchid. Photo by J. Staton

  • Encyclia cochleata, Clam-shell. Photo by J. Staton

  • Encyclia cochleata, Clam-shell. Photo by Rose Flynn

  • Cyrtopodium punctatum, Cow-horn or Cigar. Photo by Rose Flynn

  • Dendrophylax_lindenii, Ghost Orchid

  • Dendrophylax_lindenii, Ghost Orchid

  • Dendrophylax_lindenii, Ghost Orchid

  • Cyrtopodium punctatum, Cow-horn or Cigar. Photo by J. Staton

  • Cranichis muscosa, Moss-loving cranichis. Photo by J. Staton

  • Campylocentrum pachyrrhizum, Crooked-spur. Photo by J. Staton

  • Calopogon tuberosus, Grass-pink. Photo by J. Staton

  • Photo by J. Staton

  • Ponthieva racemosa, Shadow witch.