Showing posts with label Long-horned False Rein Orchid (Habenaria macroceratitis). Show all posts
Showing posts with label Long-horned False Rein Orchid (Habenaria macroceratitis). Show all posts

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Michaux's Orchid (Habenaria quinqueseta)

Michaux's Orchid (Habenaria quinqueseta) is rather widespread in the state of Florida, being found in a large swathe of the peninsula and even a few panhandle counties. Its spidery white-green flowers emerge from this time of year in north-central Florida into wintertime in the southernmost counties. I had the privilege of photographing this orchid at a lovely couple's house in the Brooksville, Florida (Citrus County) area. While I was not able to be there to verify this in person, they described the flowers as having a night fragrance that strongly resembled magnolias.

Interestingly enough, as I was reading their e-mail describing the fragrance, another e-mail came in from someone who lived in the same general area asking me to identify her yard volunteer orchids. It turned out to be more of the same species growing not five miles from where I was photographing that day. Apparently, these orchids like to grow in people's yards in the Brooksville area. This makes me want to move to Brooksville.

The spidery flowers are the largest of the Habenarias in the US, spanning 1.5 to 2 inches (3.7 to 5cm) across.

A previous post to this blog showed Habenaria macroceratitis, which some consider as a variety of H. quinqueseta. Others maintain this to be a separate species, based on several characteristics, including the spur length (H. quinqueseta has a significantly shorter spur/nectary than H. macroceratitis)

You can read more about this species at the new information page at the Florida Native Orchid website:

>> Michaux's Orchid Information Page at <<

I have also created an information page for H. macroceratitis:

>> Long-horned False Rein Orchid at<<


Saturday, August 14, 2010

New orchid photos - Habenaria macroceratitis

Also known as Habenaria quinqueseta v. macroceratitis. This is a woodland species found sparingly in Florida. Where it is found, it can form dense colonies of plants through vegetative reproduction. In fact, some colonies seen in deeper woods never seem to flower (strong enough light is often a key to orchids flowering well), but spread into large, sterile colonies through asexual reproduction alone.

I have visited this particular site in Citrus County, FL for three years running, always just a bit too late to see the plants in flower. I have been greeted instead by wilted flowers and swelling seed pods. This year, I finally got the timing right and found about ten flowering plants among a colony of several hundred. There was no breeze to speak of and the morning sun shone a spotlight (sometimes diffused by clouds) on the beckoning spikes. The flowers are some of the larger flowers in the state, being about 2 inches (5 cm) across from spindly arm to spindly arm. To add to the superlatives, the spur/nectary itself can be a good six inches (15 cm) or more in length. While I haven't smelled a fragrance personally, it is very likely that, like H. repens and H. odontopetala, this species emits a night fragrance to attract rather long-tongued moths to their flowers. Below are thumbnails of the photos taken. Clicking them will open the full-sized photo:

Habenaria macroceratitis - two plants

Habenaria macroceratitis - single spike on smaller plant

Habenaria macroceratitis - single spike on smaller plant

Habenaria macroceratitis - single larger spike

Habenaria macroceratitis - larger spike, semi-backlit by the morning sun

Habenaria macroceratitis - flower closeup

You will also notice a medium-sized brown spider on the larger spike, evidently at home among the spidery blossoms. Here is a closeup:

This type of ambush predation on flowering stems of all sorts is quite often encountered in the field...spiders laying in wait for a hapless visitor to the flowers and the pollinators hoping to survive their next visit to a flower spike. It's all a part of the web of life...prey and predator, pollinator and pollinated playing out their roles in a quiet corner of the woods in the wilds of Florida.


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