The Ghost Orchid of the Big Cypress National Preserve

This posting is dedicated to my friend, Elizabeth DuPuis Freeman, late of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and granddaughter of Dr. John G. DuPuis, one of the first physicians in Miami, Florida.  Dr. DuPuis began one of the the first dairy farms in Dade County, Florida, and was the owner of several large tracts of land in Florida.  Elizabeth spent her youth on the farm in Dade County.  Her favorite flower was the Ghost Orchid, subject of a true crime novel about the theft of the Ghost Orchid.

imageThe Ghost Orchid or Dendrephylax lindenii is found in the Big Cypress National Preserve in the Fakahatchee Strand and is among the rarest flowers in the world. It flowers during only the summer months of June and July, the height of the mosquito season. In the 85,000 acre federal preserve, it is estimated that there are only 315 orchids left. The orchid is symbiotic and must grow in the presence of a certain moss while attached to a special tree.

In the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, a “super” ghost orchid was identified several years ago. In some years, it may bloom any time during the year and often may bloom several times during the year.

The Ghost Orchid has been designated an Endangered Species under both Federal and Florida law.  While trade in rare orchids is a highly lucrative business worldwide, theft  of this rare orchid may land you in prison.  So if you should come upon one of these rare orchids, look but don’t touch.

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