Corkskrew’s Blooming Ghost Orchid

August 6, 2008 | By | Comments (7)

(Photos courtesy Audubon of Florida)

Parting the humidity and swatting mosquitoes and other buzzing bothersomes, folks are heading to a swamp in Florida for the rare chance to see a flower so valuable it cannot be priced. The elusive ghost orchid, the bloom that launched a bestseller, box-office stunner and countless pilgrimages through gator infested waters, dangles from the trunk of a 500-year-old bald cypress in Corkskrew Swamp Sanctuary in Naples. The big deal here is not how the plant looks (kind of like an old man with close-set eyes and a long Mark Twain moustache), but how rare it is. It takes perfect weather conditions and a prayer to get this sucker to come out.

Should it attach to the right tree, with the right pH level, the correct number of rain drops hit its creamy petals, and a gentle breeze come in at a most exact angle, only one insect can pollinate this prima donna – the Giant Sphinx moth. It’s the only critter with a long enough proboscis (nose) to reach into the flower’s snaking nectar tube for a long drink. No moths, an erratic season, or a plant that’s just not in the mood results in nada, which explains why ghosts don’t frequently appear. Until now, the only way to scope one was to flower power through the living swamp, competing with sharp-toothed reptiles, blood-sucking leeches and other undesirables, and even then, success was not guaranteed. But a discovery last year has changed all that.

A few yards off the reserve’s boardwalk (read planked walkway), a ghost was spotted curiously floating some 40 feet in the air. Normally, they’re only a few feet from the ground.  On top of that, where most ghost orchids have between 2 and 3 blooms, this guy had 9, a foliage eclipse of all plants previously recorded. Ed Carlson, the director of the sanctuary, suspects a fallen branch is the reason the plant is now visible. It’s likely been hanging out there for some 50 years. As for it’s elevated location and impressive flowers? A mysterious move by Mother Nature.


Into August, the ghost will lure flower fans and curious travelers. Local hotels are offering discounted room rates and packages to sweeten the deal during what is typically their slow season. “My husband thought I was little crazy going to Florida to see a flower,” says Susan Schumann-Skehan who traveled to the swamp from Connecticut. “But it’s so rare, to actually get to see it was spectacular.”

Visitors from Connecticut, abroad and only a few miles from home, are helping things pick up in the swamp, and now’s the time to join the parade. The flower is expected to stay in full bloom through mid-August. Interested parties should grab the sunscreen and head out now. This preternatural sighting can’t be guaranteed next year.



    I appreciate your work and expect more post from your end.

    July 3, 2012 at 4:18 am
  2. Flowering Tea

    Wow, this orchid is spectacular. Priceless indeed!

    September 17, 2010 at 10:00 am
  3. generic viagra

    The sphinx image also has been adopted into Masonic architecture. Among the Egyptians, sphinxes were placed at the entrance of the temple to guard the mysteries, by warning those who penetrated within, that they should conceal a knowledge of them from the uninitiated; and hence, Portal derives from the word from the Hebrew TSaPHaN, to Hide.

    April 12, 2010 at 11:30 am
  4. dkchristi

    You don’t need to wait until summer – Corkscrew’s ghost orchid surprised us all with its early blooming – 3 months early – Friday, March 26, 2010 – Made famous in D.K.Christi’s novel, GHOST ORCHID, available at the Corkscrew Sanctuary gift shop, this magnificent and mystical ghost watches those gazing upward from her normal cypress canopy perch, just off the boardwalk. Follow the characters in GHOST ORCHID whose lives are changed forever by the ghost orchid’s magic – and find your own magic this spring.

    March 28, 2010 at 5:41 pm
  5. philippines flower shop

    This orchids ghost looks so different like a mysterious flower i like this so much. Thank you so much for sharing you this.

    October 5, 2009 at 8:16 pm
  6. Linc

    If you are a flower enthusiasts or have an interested in flowers, you might have heard about the rare Ghost Orchid ghostorchid growing on an old cypress tree at Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in Naples, Fla. Not only is this type of flower very rate, but it’s in bloom for the second consecutive summer.

    August 16, 2008 at 4:49 am
  7. Jan

    Would love to see this. How beautiful. Sign me up for a trip.

    August 7, 2008 at 8:15 pm

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s