The Last Ghost Orchid Trip


It was bittersweet taking our last ghost orchid trip to Little Slough. When Chris found our slough in 2007 (you’ll have to scroll down to May because I didn’t link titles back then) we’d been searching for ghost orchids for several years. We’d tromped all around Fakahatchee Strand looking for various plants and just exploring, not really knowing any different orchids.

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When we found this orchid, Campylocentrum pachyrrhizum after a geocaching camping event, we were super excited because we thought it was a ghost orchid. Only, it wasn’t. Close—but no cigar. Sadly, this orchid isn’t even there anymore, it was taken by someone right off the tree. Bummer.

We looked for years and then we ended up knowing someone who’d been to a place and he tried to give us a description of where it was and finally Chris went out there in late April 2007 to try to find it. I stayed home because I had a cold, but when he called me to say he’d found what he thought was several hundred ghost orchid, I was excited! Later, when we got the coordinates from our friend for the original area, we discovered that we’d found a completely new and undiscovered batch of ghost orchids.

We spent that summer documenting the orchids and ended up counting 607 individuals. More or less. Now, probably less, as several have died. We would be tying ribbon on the trees and we’d see, one, two, three–no, wait, seven or eight on a tree. It was insane. That was a pretty awesome and interesting summer.

The next summer we spent several nights out video taping to see if we could get the pollinator of the ghost orchid on video. We ended up being successful. It was pretty insane sitting in the dark with the bugs and having a huge moth buzz your ear. And then we got it on tape—even more awesome!

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So, on our trip out last Sunday we were a bit worried for our babies. The freezes we had a few weeks ago were severe enough to knock back mangroves down in the Naples area. It was really bad in the central part of the state. Luckily, they survived for the most part.

old spikes
Two old spikes from last year.

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I will miss visiting them.

new spike
A new spike is already forming on this ghost—to the left.

dying ghost
This is one that is on the way out.

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We’ve entrusted the slough to our friends Kathy and Randy and a very small handful of others who know the location.

Goodbye Little Slough! We’ll be coming to visit in a few years.

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2 thoughts on “The Last Ghost Orchid Trip

  1. Peter says:

    What a shame that someone would take such an interesting plant from a tree!

    It must have been fun videoing the orchids at night.

  2. Gazebo Guy says:

    Hey I just stumbled upon your site from the garden forums. I had never even heard of a ghost orchid. I’m going to look it up though. I’m at work so I can’t get on youtube to watch your video, but I’m going to when i go home. Thanks.

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