Showing posts with label florida native orchid. Show all posts
Showing posts with label florida native orchid. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Wall Calendars! or Christmas and Other Holiday Gift Ideas Featuring Florida's Orchids - Part 2

Wall calendars are always a great way to share beautiful photographs of Florida's wild orchids with loved ones.  Proceeds go to helping our continued efforts to keep up our educational websites and add additional material, taken from numerous field trips per year to observe and photograph orchids in the wild all over the state of Florida.  This effort is entirely funded from our pockets and from proceeds from merchandise sales and speaker fees when giving presentations at orchid societies, etc.  Our websites are free to use and continue to be a source of education and advocacy for our native orchids.  I regularly receive e-mails from folks who find orchids in the wild and request identification. We also regularly donate photos for use in educational displays, orchid society newsletters, and educational websites.

So far, we have never had any advertising on our blog or website, and that is what we continue to hope to do into the future.

We have four different calendars to choose from this year. Clicking an image below will take you to the on-line store where those calendars are available. Each calendar is $19.99 plus applicable taxes and shipping.

First up, we have our most popular calendar to date, the Florida's Endangered Orchids calendar, featuring 12 photographs of orchids from Florida's endangered orchid list, including the rare, elusive and famous Ghost Orchid.

Next, we have our highly prized "Orchids of Peninsular Florida" calendar, featuring native and naturalized species found growing in the central to southern portions of our state.

Next, we have our original and very popular calendar, updated for 2016 - Florida's Native Orchids, featuring many orchids photographed in northern Florida.

Finally, we have our second ever calendar release, Florida's Wild Orchids, also updated for 2016. This calendar features twelve new photos of orchid species ranging throughout the state, including one naturalized species, the Soldier or Lawn Orchid.

We wish you a joyous Advent season from Florida's Native and Naturalized Orchids.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Christmas and Other Holiday Gift Ideas Featuring Florida's Orchids - Part 1

The Holiday season is upon us, and while you could purchase all sorts of things for your loved ones from Ugly Christmas Ties to a Shark Laser Pointer, you can better show your loved ones you care about them (and the environment) by purchasing products featuring Florida's lovely native orchids. Proceeds from the sale of these products go toward orchid and native plant conservation efforts, as well as upkeep on our myriad websites educating folks on our natural treasures here in Florida.

These products are assembled here in America through our product distributor, Cafe Press.

So, for the next few posts over the next few days, we will be featuring gift ideas that we have put together featuring my award-winning photography of Florida's native and naturalized orchids.

First up, we have a number of products that we have commissioned featuring Florida's iconic orchid, the Butterfly Orchid (Encyclia tampensis).  It is one of the most commonly seen orchids from central to southern Florida, growing happily on various hardwoods, conifers, and even the occasional palm tree.

Click on the picture below to visit our Cafe Press shop featuring all sorts of products (t-shirts, pajamas, sweatshirts, hoodies, calendars, bumper stickers, gift cards, etc) graced with one of our most lovely orchid species:

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Orange Fringed Orchid (Platanthera ciliaris) in Bloom

Here is a video I shot recently in north-central Florida showing the Orange (Yellow) Fringed Orchid (Platanthera ciliaris) in full bloom.  It is the first of 16 videos I have on my channel depicting our native orchids.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Ribbon/Thick-root Orchid (Campylocentrum pachyrrhizum) Profile/Photo Gallery Published

This is a major milestone!  It is the 50th native orchid profile/photo gallery published to the Florida Native and Naturalized Orchids website.  This is one of the rarer orchids in our state, Campylocentrum pachyrrhizum, known alternately as the Ribbon Orchid or the Thick-root Orchid.  It is distantly related to the Ghost Orchid (Dendrophylax lindenii) and is a bit more common, but still exceedlingly rare.  To make matters worse for this species, individual plants are sometimes poached because structurally, they resemble Ghost Orchids somewhat.  Imagine the disappointment for said poacher when, instead of seeing a large, white flower (if the plant even lives to flowering), he/she sees a tiny, inconspicuous flower.

Plants of this species can be easily distinguished from Ghost Orchids even when out of flower.  Read up on them on the new gallery/profile to educate yourself on this species.  Here is the profile entry:

And here is one of the images from the profile:


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Carter's Orchid (Basiphyllaea corallicola) Profile Posted

I have posted a new profile on the Florida Native Orchid site for Carter's Orchid (Basiphyllaea corallicola). It is an exceedingly rare orchid, found only on a very few occasions in the ever shrinking (due to rampant overdevelopment) pine rockland ecosystem.

Here is the link to the profile:

and here is one of the images from the new page:

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Galeandra bicarinata Profile Posted

I have posted a profile for the Two-keeled Galeandra (G. bicarinata) on the Florida Native Orchids Page:

This orchid is much rarer than the Ghost Orchid, with only a few dozen individuals found scattered throughout several hardwood hammocks in extreme southern Florida.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Vanilla mexicana Profile Posted to the Main Page

I have posted a profile of Vanilla mexicana (common name: Fuchs' Vanilla, Mexican Vanilla) to the Florida Native and Naturalized Orchids page, giving some detailed information on this species, its historical range, photos, classification, synonymy and other data.  A naturalist/photographer friend of mine, Chris Evans, had relocated a seemingly extirpated population of these extremely rare plants in a natural area in southeastern Florida.  I joined him the next weekend to explore the nearby swamp, armed with some additional information on specific plant locations.  In the process, we found a very robust, large plant sporting many seed pods, a bud and an open flower.  

Photographing the flower was particularly challenging, as it was roughly 12 feet up the tree, thankfully in some very strong, slightly-diffused sunlight, which allowed a fast shutter speed and good depth of field.  My two sons who had accompanied me helped stabilize the fully extended tripod with my camera mounted on top, angling downward.  Using the flip-out screen on my Canon T3i, I was able to judge approximately where the camera was pointing in live preview mode.  I then used my infrared remote trigger to fire off shot after shot.  Many shots were blurry or misframed, but a few came out in decent shape.  Combining two shots with slightly different focal points, I was able to get the majority of the highly 3-dimensional flower in focus.

Plant climbing up a Sabal Palm (Sabal palmetto) tree:


Please follow the link below to see the full on-line profile for this species:


New Videos: Greenfly Orchid and Water Spider Orchid

Neither the Greenfly Orchid (Epidendrum magnoliae) nor the Water Spider Orchid (Habenaria repens) is a particularly rare plant.  In fact, both are quite common in the state of Florida. 

Epidendrum magnoliae can be found in most of the state, only excluded from the southern third of the peninsula.  You need only scan the branches of oak trees in hammock, swamp, and riverine areas in its range and you are almost sure to find some plants growing.  Its range is surprisingly northerly for a tropical epiphytic orchid, being found as far north as coastal North Carolina.  Plants in the north tend to bloom in June with another flush of flowers in late fall, while southern plants seem to favor August with a potential second flush of flowers in mid-winter.  The following video shows plants in flower in a natural area in southwestern Seminole County, Florida.

While hiking to some of the spots where we knew some particularly accessible Epidendrum magnoliae to grow, we discovered a previously unknown colony of Water Spider Orchids (Habenaria repens) growing in a small pond.  H. repens is a truly inconspicuous orchid, blending quite well with other pond vegetation.  Even in full flower, the green flowers are quite inconspicuous, relying on night-produced perfume rather than sight to attract their pollinators.  The following video shows some of the plants we discovered that day:


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

An Unusual Encyclia tampensis Color Form

On a recent excursion, I ran across a specimen of Encyclia tampensis with an unusual color, perhaps a coerulean form of the species with a lilac-colored patch on the lip as opposed to the usual bright magenta.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Ghosts of the Florida Swamps

This past weekend, a small band of explorers (my wife, two plant researchers, and myself) made a foray into the Fakahatchee Strand and nearby areas to see Ghost Orchids (Dendrophylax lindenii) in the wild and hopefully catch at least one in flower.  We were disappointed to find that the trees that hosted many ghost orchids in the past had been broken by storms or otherwise dead due to natural causes.  On some of the living trees, we also found dead orchids...cause of death: unknown.  All told, from an area where we had previously seen about 15 plants, only five remained. These two sloughs which held many ghosts in their heyday were a sad vestige of their former selves.  To add insult to injury, several ghost orchids were stolen from these areas in the past year.

Thankfully, in another nearby area, we found a healthy population of ghost orchids, after wading into water and thick mud beneath that sometimes had us submerged chest high and tugging our feet furiously out of the mud trying to arch our toes so as not to lose a shoe.  It was less than half a mile of walking, but one of the most grueling hikes I have ever done. Several plants were in bud, which seemed to be our consolation prize.  My thoughts raced to strategies for trying to come back the next week.  Just as we were deciding to head back, I thought to loop around one large buttressed pond apple tree at the very edge of the area...lo and behold, just as I rounded one of the several trunks, a beautiful near-white flower met my eyes with a bud opening up just above it.  The morning light shone around the tree, leaving the roots in shadow but the flower catching the sun's rays, enhancing the otherworldly look of this ephemeral flower.

We took video and photos of the plant, which I present here:

This was an especially meaningful trip for me, as during all my previous visits to the Fakahatchee Strand, my wife was at home tending to nursing babies.  I kept promising her that when they were grown enough, I would take her to see ghost orchids up close in the wild.  I was able to make good on that promise this past weekend.

I took many photos of this superlative orchid, which I will be adding to the profile page on the Florida Native and Naturalized Orchids website.  You can view that full profile and find out more information about the ghost orchids by following the link below:

Ghost Orchid (Dendrophylax lindenii) profile link 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

A Newly Discovered Population of Calopogon multiflorus

Breaking news! 05/07/14

A New County Was Added to the List of Known Florida Counties for the Rare Florida Native Orchid, Calopogon multiflorus.

Prem Subrahmanyam, curator of the Florida Native Orchid website, Facebook page, and blog, was exploring an area of the Apalachicola National Forest on Sunday, May 4, 2014 near Tallahassee, Florida (Leon County). In a recently prescribed burned area, he found a small population (8 individual plants) of the rare orchid species, Calopogon multiflorus, commonly known as the Many-flowered Grass Pink. This species was recently upgraded from endangered to threatened with the latest guidance released by the Florida Dept. of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Appropriate officials have been contacted to let them know about this newly discovered population.  The previously closest known population to this location was 30 miles away in Liberty County, Florida.

The gallery page for this species on the Florida Native Orchid page has been updated with a new photograph taken of a member of this population, along with an updated map. Those can be viewed at the following link:

This brings to four the number of species that Prem Subrahmanyam has been the first to discover growing in Leon County, Florida. Previous first discoveries were Platanthera flava, Platanthera ciliaris, and Zeuxine strateumatica.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

A Fitting 100th Blog Post - Platanthera ciliaris in bloom.

I had the privilege of revisiting a site where one of Florida's most beautiful orchids grows - The Yellow Fringed/Orange Fringed Orchid (Platanthera ciliaris).  These are some of the nicest photos I've gotten of one of these on a partly cloudy morning in Central Florida.

You can read more about this species by following this link:

The newest photos are at the bottom of the page, but I will post them here as well.  Click on the images to zoom in on them.



Saturday, July 20, 2013

A Rarely Seen Florida Beauty - the Downy Rattlesnake Plantain

Years ago, when Carl Luer published his masterwork, The Native Orchids of Florida, the Downy Rattlesnake Plantain (Goodyera pubescens) had been hinted at as growing in Florida, but had not been officially recorded.  It was listed in a section in his book of orchids that might one day be found growing wild in Florida.

Fast forward to 1983 where a pair of naturalists discovered a population on one of the many hills near the Apalachicola River.  As is seen elsewhere in north Florida, riverine systems are a means of many northern species making tentative forays into north Florida.  The climate is often just a bit cooler, giving plants a place to establish tenuous outlying colonies.

I have not yet had the privilege of seeing the Florida population, but I had encountered a population of these orchids while photographing Pink Ladyslippers near the Atlanta, Georgia area.  I hope one day to see the Floridian plants, if the colony still exists.  A lot can happen in 30 years.

The plants consist of a basal rosette of beautifully patterned leaves -- deep blue-green with silvery veins.  The hairy flower stem emerges in spring to bloom in mid-late summer with small, roundish flowers with green-striped sepals and deeply pouched lips.

Here are some photos of this species:

And here is the profile page on the Florida Native Orchids site: 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Rosebud Orchid (Cleistes/Cleistesiopsis bifaria) watercolor

The Rosebud Orchid, Cleistesiopsis (Cleistes) bifaria, is perhaps my favorite Florida terrestrial orchid (the Ghost Orchid, Dendrophylax lindenii, is my favorite epiphyte).  

I remember back when I was 13-14, living on the outskirts of Tallahassee in a semi-rural area with a state forest on one side and the Apalachicola National Forest on the other.  The previous year, an arson-derived wildfire took out a number of acres of mature pine forest, leaving a long swathe of moist prairie in its wake.  The forest service planted a number of seedling pines (which are now a near-mature forest again) in the area, but they were many years from maturing at this point.  Because of this new open area, we were able to hike in easily and observe the local flora - blue-eyed grasses, yellow star lilies, sundews, butterworts (big yellow and little blue), hat-pins, and bachelor's-buttons all grew in abundance in the area.  

One day, I came home from school to my mom inviting us to go out on a hike with her to see something "interesting" she saw earlier that day while hiking in the forest.  She suggested grabbing a pair of binoculars as we headed out of the door.  We followed the western edge of the prairie to a patch of forest close by that was mercifully spared from the fire.  

As we approached the area, I saw a few of the familiar white spirals of Grass-Leaved Ladies' Tresses (Spiranthes praecox) that we had also seen previously further out in the prairie.  As we hiked further along the remains of an old firebrake, we saw nearby some familiar fetterbushes with several leaves that had become swollen, thick and bright pink - our best guess is some sort of gall disease.  Further back toward the edge of some deeper woods, I thought I spied some more of these pinkened leaves.  "What do you see back there?" my mom asked me.  "Some more of those pink leaf galls", I replied.  

"Take your binoculars and look again."  I obeyed, expecting to see more of the same pink galls.  Instead, what I saw through the binoculars were two pink petals and a veined lip with contrasting brown-green sepals arching behind them and curving gracefully backward.  "Rosebud Orchids!" I exclaimed as I scampered toward them to observe them more closely.  All the literature I had read on them up to that point indicated that they were exceedingly rare, so I was not expecting to see these in the wild without a lot of searching, and certainly not within walking distance of my home!  I was elated.

I took to studying this species relentlessly, reading any information I could find about them in our wildflower books and later in Carl Luer's The Native Orchids of Florida (a 14-year birthday present).  It turns out that in the ANF and other portions of the Florida panhandle, this is a reasonably common orchid, but it does become rarer as you head into states north of Florida.  Ironically enough, the closely related Rose Pogonia (Pogonia ophioglossoides), which is listed as more common in the literature, seem to be much harder to find than the Rosebud in the ANF.

The plants are very stately, bearing a single vanilla-scented flower almost two inches in diameter on a tall solitary stem.  One leaf grows midway up the stem and another bract grows beneath the flower.  The entire plant is coated with a fine, plum-like frosting that makes it relatively easy to see plants out of bloom.  Only the tall meadow-beauties in the same area have a similarly frosted leaf, but the plants are so different, they can be easily distinguished.  The flower itself consists of a set of brown-to-green sepals that arch upward from the flower.  Sometimes the sepals are straight, other times they are curled at the end.  Occasionally, one finds sepals that curl completely on themselves like an emerging brown fern fiddlehead. The tube-like corolla (the petals and lip) is tilted slightly downward, surrounding a bright green column (gynostemium).  The two petals are similar and range in color from white to a light rose-pink, ending with a slight curl at their tips.  The lip is more darkly colored, bearing a plateau-like crest edged in rose and spotted on its upper surface and a slightly ragged edge.  Rose, green, and brown colored veins snake throughout the lip, giving it a most exotic and handsome appearance.

What I found most intriguing about this species is that such beauty could be found in a native American plant.  One would expect exotic orchids from the tropics of Brazil or Peru or Madagascar to bear such beauty, but an orchid growing just a few thousand feet from my home?  I took to sketching and doodling this orchid over and over in the margins of my homework notebooks, sketching it idly whenever I had a chance.  The shape became quite familiar to my mind's eye and I could easily draw an entire plant from memory.

Many years later, I can still easily sketch one of these without any visual aid.

If you want to read more about this species, follow the link below:

Quite recently, I have taken to experimenting with watercolor pencils, which are a most intriguing medium to work with.  You essentially color-pencil in your artwork on your paper and then use a wet paintbrush to turn it into a watercolor painting.  This gives me very fine control of the placement of the color, although the limited color palette of my basic set makes picking a proper blend of the colors challenging at times (I will try to upgrade to a more "professional" set some time soon). My first experiment in the medium was my Ghost Orchid painting, seen in an earlier blog entry and recently "digitally remastered" in Photoshop to smooth out the background to what you see below:

Ghost Orchid Watercolor Painting (Dendrophylax lindenii)

I figured it was high time to render my favorite terrestrial orchid in full watercolor treatment as well.  My main problem with the ghost orchid painting that I had done previously was the fact that I didn't try to use anything to mask the foreground while painting the background.  Hence, I had to try to fill in the background into some exceedingly small areas.  I also tried to use the watercolor pencils to color in the background and then wash over them.  This was very hard to smooth out to what I wanted for a background.  Hence, the digital makeover to fix this painting a bit.

This time, I used rubber cement for a masking compound, painting over the sketch I made of the Rosebud Orchid, based on this photo:

Cleistes bifaria (Rosebud Orchid)

The rubber cement worked like a charm for masking, allowing me to wash over the paper with impunity to create a much smoother background, but being transparent, it was hard to judge how it was working right at the edges. Hence, once the paper was dried and the mask removed, I had to try to touch up the somewhat ragged edges, which made it a little more difficult to keep the color entirely even.  It is my understanding that "professional" (read: expensive) masking compounds add a bit of color, making it easier to see where you are going with it.  I may try one of these the next time around.

Once the mask was removed and the edges touched up as well as possible, I began the task of painting the flower. I was most concerned about properly conveying the sense that the light was penetrating the upward-arching sepals and washing into the shadow at the base of the petals and getting the intricate coloring of the lip as correct as possible.  After a lot of painstaking application of layers of color - olive, clay yellow, brown, deep yellow, cherry red, carmine, lavender and forest green; I am pretty happy with the results.

So, without further ado, I give to you my Rosebud Orchid rendering in watercolor and watercolor pencil:

Rosebud Orchid (Cleistes bifaria) watercolor painting

And here is a closer shot of the flower to see the detail:

Rosebud Orchid (Cleistes bifaria) watercolor painting

I hope you enjoy this at least a fraction as much as I enjoyed creating it.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Copper Ladies Tresses Profile Up on the Website

I covered Copper Ladies' Tresses (Mesadenus lucayanus) in a previous post.  As is often the case, I use this blog as a way to get some information and photographs out prior to setting up a formal profile on the Florida Native Orchids website.  In this case, quite a bit of time has elapsed between the initial blog entry and the plant profile, as I put my focus on setting up other profiles and generally updating the website to fully utilize MySQL and PHP for the orchid gallery.

So, after a very long delay, here finally is the profile for Copper Ladies Tresses on the Florida Native Orchids site (click the thumbnail below to visit the profile):

Visit the Copper Ladies Tresses (Mesadenus lucayanus) profile on Florida's Native Orchids

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Late Autumn's Last Hurrah - Spiranthes longilabris

Late in autumn (late October for north Florida and late November for central/south), one of our prettier white ladies' tresses species, Spiranthes longilabris, comes into bloom in open, wet areas.  Not very often seen, I often went hunting for this in my early adulthood in Tallahassee, to no avail.  Granted, I used Carl Luer's book as a guide, where he stated that they would go on Thanksgiving weekend to see them in the Sarasota area.  Two years ago, I was clued into a particular population, but I was a hair's breadth too late (we did find plants in seed...perhaps a week or two out of bloom).  

Most recently, a colleague pointed me to an unknown Spiranthes that he had photographed in a wild area in Palm Beach County.  Its long, lacy lip and widespread sepals were an unmistakeable dead-ringer for this species, not recorded in Palm Beach County before.  On my way down to an orchid talk in Homestead, I was able to visit the same area and to find them in full flower!  Notch another orchid species in my belt!

Here are a few photographs that we took this day:

Spiranthes longilabris - full spike.
Spiranthes longilabris - flower close-up.
And here is the profile page on the Florida Native Orchids website: 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Prosthechea cochleata - An Increasingly Rare Orchid

Prosthechea cochleata, known as the Clamshell Orchid and the Black Orchid in Belize (it is their national flower) is relatively common in the tropical areas to the south of Florida, and it makes a tenuous foray into the southern swamps as well.  In times past, this would have been counted as one of the more abundant epiphytes in Florida, but habitat loss and collecting have made this increasingly hard to find.  Entire areas that once supported large colonies of this species have been stripped bare in recent years.  This is truly senseless, as this is not a hard species to find in cultivation, available commercially from many on-line orchid vendors and shipped right to your door.

This particular plant is a rather robust one, found deep in the Fakahatchee Strand.  It was in full flower in late November.  Interestingly enough, this particular plant was also photographed by the legendary Clyde Butcher and appears on his website.

Flowering spikes typically emerge in fall and bloom throughout the winter, providing no freakish weather occurs, bringing frost to the swamps.

Please don't take orchid plants from the wild, instead, leave them for others to enjoy.

Here is the profile page on the Florida Native Orchid website (click to follow it): 

And here is one of the photographs we took that day:

Florida Clamshell Orchid (Prosthechea cochleata)

Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Rarest of Beauties from the Ashes - Calopogon multiflorus

Florida is home to four species of grass pinks, Calopogon tuberosus, Calo. pallidus, Calo. barbatus, and finally the endangered Calopogon multiflorus.  The former group of three species is still rather common in Florida, finding homes equally as suitable in wet, open pinelands and prairies and wet roadsides and ditches.  In the last environments, substantial colonies of plants may arise, all within easy access of a car parked (safely) on the roadside.

Calo. multiflorus, on the other hand, is very exacting in its choice of habitat, preferring to flower only after a fire has removed the competing vegetation in a suitable open pineland or semi-wet prairie.  Even when the vegetation is low and still relatively open, C. multiflorus will seem to remain dormant, or, at least, non-blooming, whereas other species of Calopogon will seem to do fine, as long as an adequate supply of moisture and accessible sunshine is received. 

As we European settlers have move to Florida, we have brought our natural fear of fire, and for a number of decades, we have sought to suppress natural fires at all costs, especially during the first three-quarters of the 20th century.  Thankfully, attitudes have changed, and the use of prescribed burning and/or letting natural wildfires progress has restored a more healthy fire regime to many wild lands.  In developed areas, however, where small pockets of wild land are sandwiched between houses and commercial developments, "brush fires" are usually suppressed with extreme prejudice.

The result is that fire-dependent species of orchids such as Calo. multiflorus and Pteroglossaspis ecristata are becoming quite scarce throughout their historical range.  It may also be the case with C. multiflorus that it is not often recorded even when it does emerge after a suitable fire.  

I had been on a hunt for this species for many years.  One year, on a report that a small colony of this species was in flower at a nearby wilderness area, I had to wait a week before I could find a free morning to go photograph the plants.  By the time I had arrived, they were bloomed out, and impossible to find as just small stems with seed pods hidden amongst the scorched twigs.

Finally, just this year, on the tip of a fellow nature photographer, I was able to drive to an area where these were still flowering.  What lovely little creatures they were, with bright magenta flowers that seem on average to be a bit smaller than Calo. barbatus, arranged along a short raceme.  They also seem to be rounder and fuller in flower presentation than C. barbatus, owing to the fact that their petals become wider near their tips.

The day was cool (mid-50s in the morning) and pleasant.  It was a bit windy, which made it challenging to get a good shot with no motion blur.  I was unable to set the aperture to an optimal value, so the flower closeup below is actually a bit of a stack/composite to show all parts of the flower well.

Here are some of the photographs we took that day.

Several plants in situ.
Flower close up.
You can read more about this species and see more photographs from that day on my website:

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

At Long Last, Platanthera integra

Armed with the fact that yellow fringeless orchids (Platanthera integra) were finally in bloom in the Florida panhandle in the general vicinity of Tallahassee, I made my way north again with the hope of recapturing these in flower with improved photographic equipment, as my previous photos were taken years ago with a 4 megapixel Sony Mavica.

My original goal was to be at a specifically known site early in the morning to use that highly sought after "magical morning light" for my photographs.  Well, when I was setting my phone alarm, something happened and I forgot to save the new time.  So, at 9:30, I awoke to find that most of the magical morning light is well gone before even heading out, not to mention the hour-long drive (and at least a 30 minute hike) before I would be face-to-face with blooming plants.  Sometimes things don't start out by going your way.  I frantically heat up some breakfast and head out the door.

I finally arrived at the site around 10:30 and began my hike into the wet savannah--made even wetter by recent soaking rains from Hurricane Isaac.  After just a few minutes of slogging through ankle-high water, my pants were soaked to my knees.  Pressing on, I rounded the bend of dwarfed cypress trees and very tall pitcher plants (Sarracenia flava) into the area where I was told that they had been seen a few years ago.

Nothing.  Not a single plant to be seen.  

After a quickly worded prayer and some hard thinking, I remembered something being said about these plants being seen on the backside of this particular savannah.  So, as I began my disappointed hike back out of the area, I made my way over near the far eastern edge near the treeline of widely scattered pines.  As I approached, I caught a flash of saffron yellow bobbing above the grasses in a gentle breeze.  A little closer, and I was sure of it...I was finally gazing upon one of these old friends that I had known since boyhood.

A search of the surrounding area yielded eight other plants in flower.  One non-blooming plant (just a large leaf) grew near the first plant I spotted.  It was 11:15 AM at this point, and the light was more approaching high noon and perilously sunny.  While overhead, high-contrast light is considered the bane of most flower photographers, I make the best of it.  In this case, I actually think it helped to accentuate the crystalline texture of the miniature flowers (each only 1 cm wide).

Scanning the sky, I saw clouds near the horizon, as they made their way slowly in my direction.  So, I waited, and waited some more, as I knew their diffuse light would make for some nicer photographs.  As I waited, the breeze began to pick up, so I hastily construct a stabilizing scaffolding for the stem using some branches within reach. A few candidate clouds moved just a little too far to one side to block the sun, so I had to wait even longer for the right cloud to come near.  I managed to fire off one or two shots when a small cloud did block the sun for just a few seconds.

Suddenly, a red flash on my camera display indicated my battery had run out.  To make matters worse, I forgot to charge my backup battery, so it is down to almost zero charge on that backup as well.  The final photographs would have to be done looking through the lens manually, rather than relying on the sensor view. 

I waited longer.  Finally, the right cloud blocked the sun properly, giving me some nicely diffused light to work with.  I fired off multiple shots, continuing to do so even as the cloud began to pass by and the light brightened again.  Just on the cusp of that border between cloud-lit and sunlit, I found what I felt to be the best photo of the bunch.

Here it is...I give to you this weekend's best photo of Platanthera integra

Hiking out, I found two more plants closer to the road.  Then, as I began my drive back, I spotted two more populations separated each by several miles from the other.

All told, I was rewarded with finding about 20 plants in three scattered populations.  A rewarding day and a refreshing one as well...being immersed in a sea of green foliage does wonders for a soul that lives in an every-day world violated by concrete and asphalt.

You can read more about this species here:

>>> Platanthera integra profile page. <<< 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Fringe Orchid Trifecta

Two of my daughters, Sarah and Hannah, and I made a recent trip to the panhandle of Florida in search of various species of Platanthera - specifically P. ciliaris, P. chapmanii, P. blephariglottis, P. cristata and P. integra.  I had gone specifically seeking P. integra - the Orange Fringeless Orchid - a diminutive plant that is nonetheless lovely in its own right. Many of the photographs I had of these species were dated, taken with older, lower-resolution cameras, so my photo collection was in need of an upgrade. 

Driving down the highway through the Apalachicola National Forest, we enjoyed the sight of many summer and fall blooming species of plants - colic roots, crow poison, meadow beauties, pine lilies, and blazing stars (just beginning to open).  There were also many carnivorous plants, well out of bloom, but sporting their deadly leaves - pitcher plants, sundews, and butterworts, and quite well naturalized venus flytraps.  I always love driving through these moist pine flatwoods and discovering what is in bloom that day.

We first visited a known colony of the orange fringed orchid, Platanthera ciliaris, that I have known for more than a decade.   We were met with about ten plants in various stages of bud and bloom.  Below is one of the better photographs we took that day:

Beyond this, we had some idea of where to look for the remaining species, but hunting these things is never an exact science.  Sarah was the first to spot one of our quarry - Platanthera chapmanii in full bloom.  These are several weeks early compared to their usual blooming season.  They can be differentiated from the larger P. ciliaris by the size of their flowers and their general shape.  The column is more hooked, the fringes less pronounced and the lateral sepals less reflexed.  These are believed to be descended from hybrids of P. ciliaris x P. cristata, but exist now as a stable species in its own right.  

As an added bonus, a Green Lynx Spider (Peucetia viridans) was perched on this plant, awaiting a hapless pollinator.  It is quite common to encounter spiders on orchid flowers.  They are obviously instinctively aware that if they lie in wait on a flower, their prey will come right to them.

We puttered around for awhile, trying to find the Orange Fringeless Orchid (Platanthera integra) in flower.  Alas, it was not meant to be this particular day.  After a long and fruitless search for even a single precocious individual, we had to head home.  On the way back, we saw some more of what we thought were P. chapmanii.  As we got out of the car, it turned out that we had found a small colony of Platanthera cristata, the Crested Fringed Orchid.  This was a rather unexpected treat. One of the individuals was extremely large for this species, which is usually about half in all proportions compared to P. ciliaris.  This plant was easily as tall as a robust P. ciliaris with a flower head twice as tall as any other P. cristata that I have seen.  It was really an amazing sight:

It was, all-in-all, a very productive trip.  Now to locate some P. integra...

You can find out more information about these species (and many more) on the native orchid gallery by clicking the picture at the top of this blog titled "View the Gallery".

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...