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My Orchid Articles
 Fakahatchee Swamp
Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park, the "Amazon of North America", home of the Ghost Orchid
   Seminole indians native to the area have apparently much less overheated fantasies and call it "Frog orchid" by alluding to the shape of the flowers indeed resembling somewhat to the contours of a jumping frog.
    The blockbuster movie "Adaptation" (2002) starring Meryl Streep, Nicolas Cage, Chris Cooper based on the book "The Orchid Thief" by Susan Orlean changed all that. The indeed in many respects special "Ghost orchid" became highly desirable for orchid fans all around the globe.
   Read the book, watch the movie - but keep at hand one or two pinches of salt as far as the academic aspects are concerned, including the ruthless world of illegal orchid hunting and trade neither the book nor the Hollywood movie come even close to.
   The book and the movie were anything but beneficial to the small population of this orchid reaching the northernmost edge of its areal, because they elicited illegal orchid theft raids into its Florida habitat. Fortunately most of those raids did fail, consequently could not do too much harm to these indeed charming creatures.
   Be it mystified as is, nowadays propagating this orchid from seed under artificial conditions is not that difficult, many orchid vendor firms offer flasked seedlings at reasonable prices.

   On Feb 9, 2006 Tony Bailey of Sumner, Georgia had wrote and sent pictures of his "ghost orchid" with two inflorescences emerging. This mysterious little orchid has been so elusive many people walk right by it and never would realize it is an orchid, or worse toss in the compost pile because it looks dead.
     I was just thrilled at the aspect of possibly watching this wonder of nature actually bloom.
    Tony continued to write with updates as the inflorescence grew and buds appeared. On June 4th he wrote there were now 3 inflorescences and the buds were forming on the other two as well.
   June 19th: the buds were swelling and we expected flowers soon.
   Finally on June 26th Tony announced we had flowers. What a wonderful experience to be able to share and bring to all of you!
Tim Bailey
   Tony Bailey -- with his private ghost ...
    You can see more photos of the fabulous "Ghost orchid" at Tony's online photo album.
    The currently valid name scientific name of the Frog or if you wish Ghost orchid is Dendrophylax lindenii (Lindley) Bentham ex Rolfe (1888.), shown here in full bloom.

   Like so many other orchids, in the by today more than one and half century of its academic history it was tossed around by orchidologists from genus to genus. Consequently, invalid names of this orchid are still widely used.

   *Angraecum lindenii Lindley (1846.).

   Aeranthes lindenii
(Lindley) Reichenbach f. (1864.)
   Polyrrhiza lindenii
(Lindley) Cogniaux et Urban (1910.).
   Polyradicion lindenii (Lindley) Garay (1969.).

   Endemic to the Caribbean Islands, reaching the northernmost edge of its areal in South Florida.   Point at the image or here for some idea of the real flower size.
   Dendrophylax lindenii (Lindley) Bentham ex Rolfe (1888.) in fruit.
Guanahacabibes Peninsula, Cuba
Collector number JBNH 839-87

    Notice that the plant is attached to a log in fairly developed stage of fungal decay. Wood decaying activity of the fungi softens and loosens up the hard wood tissues which in turn results in increased moisture holding and nutrients absorbing capacity of the support. Consequently, the immediate micro-habitat of the orchid is very rich in biologically active compounds produced by the microflora.
   On the other hand, lichen and moss flora, ubiquitous in many tropical forests is missing; only small patches of green algae can be found here and there. The actual reason is that the habitat is exposed to bush fires during the dry season and this log was burnt, too.

   As that can be seen here, another specimen growing on the very same log was literally "smoked": lost its old, dry flower spike(s) to the bush fires of the preceeding dry season, yet it is on the way of recovering and sure it will survive.
   One more point to note: producing the relatively huge seed pod containing tens of thousands of seeds puts enormous strain on the plant.
   Consequently, leafless orchids tend to be short-lived if they are forced to produce seed pods, while on the other hand in cultivation they can live quite long and flower regularly over many vegetative and generative cycles if pollination or at least fruit production is prevented.
   Bottom line: think it over twice whether you are indeed willing to take the pains of pollinating your leafless orchid then pay extra attention to feeding properly the plant, eliminating the risk of lethal exhaustion.
   One of the reasons resulting in leafless habit in New World orchids belonging to the Subtribe Angreacidae (genera Campylocentrum, Dendrophylax, Harrisella) is that they have difficulties with developing stomata (gas exchange cells, sing. stoma) and during germination even if they produce one or two microscopic, rudimentary leaves at all, those non-viable structures dehisce soon.
   Their modified roots, if attached to firm substrates are dorsiventral, i.e. have "back" and "stomach" sides. Tissues in the dorsal part are photosynthetizing and in the primary cortex of the root there are so-called pneumatodes, which are modified cell regions through which respiration takes place. These pneumatodes show up as whitish spots on the surface of wet roots, when the green, photoshyntetizing cells in the secondary cortex of the root can also be seen.
   Read more at my other site on other leafless orchids here.
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