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Everglades Adventure: Seeking the Ghost Orchid

August 08 2012 - Blog, Club News

The photograph at right is real, but I certainly did not hold this alligators tail. This was said in jest.  I have far too much respect for all wildlife.

Actually, most everyone thought I was a bit loony, walking through a swamp with murky water coming up to mid-thigh, in an area known for alligators, poisonous snakes, and now pythons.  My motto has been…anything for a great shot.

In this case, the great shot was to be a photograph of the rare… seductive Ghost Orchid.  Last year, I went to see an exhibit in South Miami given by nature and landscape photographer Brian Call.  I had first met him when he visited my gallery and have admired his work ever since, so I looked forward to see his new visions.

And among the many photographs he displayed there was one of the elusive Ghost Orchid.  A book (Adaptation) and movie (The Orchid Thief) have been spun around delicate bloom, and this added to my intrigued to seeing it in the wild.  Talking at the show, I told Brian I’d enjoy joining him the next time he planned to look for and photograph this spectacle, and he graciously told me he’d be happy to take me.

Seeing in the wild is the best option.  It is extremely difficult to cultivate.  Brian told me the best time is from May through August.

On May 16, 2010 we made our foray into the Everglades, going off the beaten path following a long dirt road in Big Cypress National Preserve, passing an occasional alligator we could see, and I don’t know how many lurking unseen.

We finally arrived at a spot familiar to Brian and known to seasonally have several blooms.  Thunderstorms were in the area, and although it was mid-day, once we entered the dense foliage it became quite dark.  There was plenty of mud and water to slosh through as we went deeper into the jungle…  We went several spots with the same conditions, and did find the orchid, but at the 2nd stage as buds, not yet blooming. Oh, leaving one spot a man driving by stopped to show us photos he’d taken of a large cottonmouth he’d taken just up the road…YIKES!

[check this site for more details and terrific photographs: http://www.flnativeorchids.com/natives_gallery/dendrophylax_lindenii.htm