The "Super" Ghost Orchid Now Blooming

The first blossoms of the 2024 season were photographed on June 22.

NAPLES, FL — June 24, 2024 —The “Super” ghost orchid at Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is now blooming. Ghost orchids (Dendrophylax lindenii) are rare flowering plants that rely on extremely sensitive, wetland habitats, and are only known to live in South Florida and Cuba.

"We are so fortunate to be able to share with our visitors a glimpse of this amazing plant, which relies on the unique microclimate found only in swamps like Corkscrew," says Keith Laakkonen, Sanctuary Director. "We don’t know how many of them there are in Florida, but there aren’t very many.”

The “Super” ghost orchid, one of several on record at the Sanctuary, was discovered in July 2007. It typically returns to the spotlight each summer, although it has had blooms at other times of the year. As the largest ghost orchid ever discovered, its blossoms draw international attention. In addition to two open blossoms, two visible buds are expected to open shortly.

Ghost orchids are “epiphytes” - plants that cling to the surface of certain species of tree trunks and limbs. They receive all their food and water through the atmosphere or from the surface of their host tree but do not harm their host. Ghost orchids have no actual leaves and the plants are barely visible throughout much of the year. Once the blossoms drop off, only their roots remain. As summer rains and humidity return to the forest, ghost orchids spring to life, producing multiple spikes, buds, and blossoms. Most of the blooms occur between June and October.

The specific climate and ecology of Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary make the growth of this rare orchid possible. Ghost orchids only grow in sub-tropical wetlands and are most common in remote swamps, where they are only easily seen when blooming. Threats to the orchids include poaching, loss and/or degradation of habitat, and climate change. Over the past several decades, human activities have significantly reduced the quantity and quality of wetland habitats across Florida. The future of ghost orchids depends on vigilant habitat protection, protecting pollinators, and respecting and admiring this captivating species from a distance.

On August 4, 2024, the Sanctuary will host a special program with R J Wiley, a photographer in residence who has been photographing the orchid for more than a decade. The free program is included with discounted admission to the New Moon on the Boardwalk event starting at 6:30 p.m. Online tickets to the event are recommended: space in the program is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis that day at the Blair Visitor Center.  

The “Super” ghost orchid at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is located about 70 feet off the ground on a bald cypress tree roughly 100 feet off the boardwalk. To see the blooms, orchid enthusiasts are encouraged to bring a spotting scope or binoculars, and a recommended lens length of 600 mm to get a good photograph. Online tickets are recommended to visit Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary to see the orchid at The boardwalk is open daily from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. with the last admission at 1 p.m. Get tickets.


Corkscrew's Ghost Orchid

Corkscrew's Ghost Orchid

The "Super" ghost orchid began blooming in 2024 on June 21.

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New Moon On The Boardwalk - August 4, 2024

New Moon On The Boardwalk - August 4, 2024

Sunday, August 4, 2024 at 6:30pm Eastern


Mastering the Capture of the Super Ghost Orchid at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

Mastering the Capture of the Super Ghost Orchid at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

Photographer RJ Wiley started his quest to get the perfect shot in 2007.

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