The state of Florida is home to about 100 species of orchids. Of those 100 or so, chances are the only species anyone might know by name is the rare Ghost Orchid (Dendrophylax lindenii) which occurs in the Everglades of Lee, Collier and Glades counties. The subject of a book, the Orchid Thief, they are considered a challenge to grow and are sought after by orchid enthusiasts. The orchid also occurs on islands of the Caribbean and as you can see in the last photo, has no leafs. They grow on the bark of trees in the wild, preferably Pond Apple but others can be used.

The Rainforest is now home to ten Ghost Orchids, donated to us by Hoang Nguyen who at the time was a graduate student in the Department of Environmental Horticulture. Hoang grew what seemed to the Rambles hundreds of Ghost Orchids in a greenhouse just down the street from Powell Hall. He has since graduated but has left us with these lovely plants. At this very moment we have one orchid in bloom with another budded and ready to flower. If you’ve never seen one in person and you don’t want to wade in the cypress swamps of southwest Florida the Rambles recommends braving the heat and visiting the Rainforest.

Florida Museum photos by Ryan Fessenden