Sunday, May 23, 2010

Ghost Story **updated below**

The original concept behind this post involved dressing the kitties up as ghosts, but they weren't very cooperative.  Here, I'm at the Oak Hills Gardens booth at SWROGA, posing with the legendary Ghost Orchid (Dendrophylax lindenii). Oak Hills sells baby ghosts for $12.50 and they're incredibly cute, but five years from flowering and decades before they assume the grandeur of the specimen shown above.  

Most of us know that the Ghost Orchid was popularized by The Orchid Thief and the movie "Adaptation."  So, I asked Greg, one of the Oak Hills orchidists, about John LaRoche's plan to become a millionaire from cloning the plant.  I was curious about the timeline, because it seemed like Oak Hills Gardens beat LaRoche at his own game.  Greg said, "Well, we haven't made millions from it, but it's our most popular plant by far."  Most, however, are sent off to an early death.  Dendrophylax lindenii has narrow wetness parameters; it's easily under-watered and over-watered.  Greg told me that hobbyists have made big strides in perfecting the cultural requirements of the species in the last five years or so, but it's still a challenge.

As most Cats and Catts readers know, the Ghost orchid is extremely rare in the wild.  Humans are destroying its natural habitat and its sole pollinator (a particular species of Sphinx moth).  There are only about a thousand of these orchids remaining in the world.  A new batch of ghost orchids were discovered growing on the old-growth bald cypress trees in the Corkscrew Sanctuary Park in Naples Florida in July 2007.  So far this year, one bloom opened in late March and lasted a couple of weeks.  Last year, one plant produced ten long lasting flowers.  

In my opinion, your best bet for seeing the ghost orchid "live" is at the Oak Hills Gardens vendors booth at the next orchid show.

**update**  I just noticed a recent post by Marc in About Orchids about seeing the ghost orchid at the Northwestern Pennsylvania Orchid Show.  Check it out -- he has great pictures.  The growers were Kim and Edgar Stehli of Windswept in Time Orchids.   


dkchristi said...

Ghost Orchid by D. K. Christi also made the ghost orchid of Blair Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary famous. This magnificent orchid had as many as 20 blooms in its first season of sighting (it may be 30 or 50 years old and just finally seen on D.K.Christi's birthday in 2007 because some overhead canopy may have moved in the hurricane). There is nothing so exciting as actually seeing eight to ten blooms high overhead, floating in space, delicate petals touched with dew. You may want to read Ghost Orchid to see the real mystical magic this orchid may yield. The author of The Orchid Thief never even saw a real ghost orchid. D. K. Christi stalked the ghost orchid in Corkscrew for three months for three summers, inspiring a story of love, lies and redemption, wrapped in the exquisite, rare and endangered ghost orchid. NPR reviews praised the beauty of the Everglades that shines through on every page; the ghost orchid as the heart and soul of the story. Happy reading.

CatsandCatts said...

Thanks for the notice about your book. Is it nonfiction or fiction?

dkchristi said...

Ghost Orchid is a fiction story; however, as most fiction imitates life, events and locations borrow from reality. My characters could live next door. Readers who have traveled to Venezuela, Germany, Italy and Southwest Florida might recognize references to real places. In particular, references to the Everglades are so real that the reader feels its beauty from their armchair. Thanks for your inquiry. Ghost Orchid is found in print and ebook at,, fictionwise and all online stores.

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