Floral Weekends

Ghost Orchid

Hey everyone! Welcome to floral weekends. This is a segment started by me where I write about some beautiful and strange flowers from all around the world.


Ghost orchid is a rare epiphyte. Called the Dendrophylax lindenii, is found primarily in humid, marshy areas of Cuba, the Bahamas and Florida. Ghost orchid plants are also known as white frog orchids, thanks to the frog-like shape of the odd-looking ghost orchid flowers.

Like most beautiful things in the world, this flower is also at the verge of extinction thanx to some poachers around the world who wish to have every beautiful thing. To protect it, the exact location of this plant is not known by any one in the world, except for those botanists who tend to protect it. Like most wild orchids in the United States, ghost orchid plants are also threatened by loss of pollinators, pesticides and climate change.

There are 2 types of Ghost Orchids –

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Doesn’t it look like a dancing ghost?  Its doesn’t have chlorophyll on it and is hence white in color.  When they move in night, they look like creepy ghosts floating in air and thus, the name ghost orchids. The plant is also leafless and depends on the other tree to make food.  As we write this, only 2,000 orchids are remained in Florida, making it a prized possession of the planet.

Photosynthesis is done by the roots of the plants. This flower lives in a symbiotic association with Mycorrhizae, without which it can’t survive. The fungus needs sugar from the plant and in exchange, it provides and gathers nutrients for it.  If the plants aren’t infected by the fungus in the wild, they won’t germinate and will be dead eventually.

The blooming season for the plant is June to August.  One to ten flowers are bloomed, with only one flower opening at a time.  The scent of plant resembles apple’s fragrance. Their sweet nighttime scent attracts giant sphinx moths that pollinate the plants with their proboscis – long enough to reach pollen hidden deep within the ghost orchid flower.

Recently, biologists at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences have found a new way to culture and process plants from seed to the lab. The plants, so far, have successfully acclimatized to the greenhouse environment. The ghost orchids also showed high rates of survival when planted to wild as well.  Out of 80 plants, 70 orchids survived the natural habitat at Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge in Eastern Collier County, Florida. The biologists also found success with ghost orchids planted at the Naples Botanical Garden.

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Fun Fact-

Ghost Orchids came into limelight when they featured in non-fiction book, Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean. In the story, the ghost orchid flowers in the Collier Country are stolen by some thieves. Later a movie was also based on this book. K. Christi has also penned a fiction novel, ‘Ghost Orchid’, based on the ghost orchid flowers at Blair Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary.

Well that’s all for this week’s Floral Weekend. Hope you enjoyed reading about this ghostly flower.

Have a nice Day. 🙂


(Courtesy – arenaflowers)

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