Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Blooming Ghost Orchid found...

The ghost blooms in June, July and August...Sightings are rare... navigating the swampy wilds of the FakahatcheeStrand, an 85,000-acre linear state preserve in the Everglades.
... the news that a ghost orchid in full flower is perched high in a baldcypress tree just 150 feet off the boardwalk at Corkscrew Swamp in CollierCounty is... amazing to those who have seen them and those who have soughtthem.
?... I?m surprised to say the least,? said Susan Orlean, who wrote... ?TheOrchid Thief,? published in 1998. The search for the ghost orchid is acentral theme in the book, which detailed the exploits of John Laroche ofNaples, a real-life thief of orchids, including the elusive ghost.
Orlean began researching the book in 1994, but to this day has never seen ablooming ghost orchid...Orlean spent hours tromping through the innards of the Fakahatchee Strandin her search....Her book was the basis for the 2002 movie ?Adaptation,? in which actorChris Cooper portrayed Laroche and Meryl Streep played Orlean. TheFakahatchee Strand was the setting for part of the movie, where park rangerMike Owen has monitored ghost orchids and other protected orchids... foralmost 14 years.
Owen returned three of the ghost orchids ? among the 84 total orchidsLaroche poached Dec. 21, 1993 ? to the Fakahatchee. The next June one ofthem bloomed, marking the first time Owen ever saw a ghost orchid in fullflower.... The ghost has no leaves. ?All it is is a mass of roots withchlorophyll,? he said. The plant takes 15 to 20 years to bloom and its onlypollinator is the giant sphinx moth, he said....Clyde Butcher... black-and-white photographer of the Everglades, went intothe Fakahatchee in 1999 and came out with his now-famous photo of asolitary ghost orchid bloom....The ghost orchid at Corkscrew Swamp is 60 feet in the air...Its height may keep it safe from poachers [hopefully !].
Another ghost orchid that bloomed just 100 feet from the one Butcherphotographed was stolen in 2005, Owen said.The poachers chopped the top 18 inches off the tree, including the bloom."

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