A rare ghost orchid growing on an ancient bald cypress tree at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary near Naples is in bloom for the second consecutive summer. Its seven buds are likely to produce blooms visible from the Audubon sanctuary's boardwalk for the next two weeks.
The ghost orchid (Polyrrhiza lindenii) is an extremely rare epiphytic orchid that grows without leaves on the trunks of trees in a small, concentrated area of southwest Florida. The plants are usually visible only to intrepid adventurers, who must hike through hip-deep water in the area's bald cypress, pop ash and pond apple sloughs to reach them.
The plant is growing at a height of about 45 feet on the trunk of a bald cypress tree 150 feet from the boardwalk.
The ghost orchid, preyed upon by poachers, was the subject of bestselling author Susan Orlean's book The Orchid Thief and the subsequent movie Adaptation.
Audubon's Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is northeast of Naples, 15 miles from I-75 on Immokalee Road. Hours are 7 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. through Sept. 30. Last visitors are admitted at 6:30 p.m. Cost: Adults, $10; full-time college student with photo ID, $6; National Audubon Society member with ID card, $5; students (6 to 18 years old), $4; children younger than 6, free.
Visitors are advised to call the sanctuary at (239) 348-9151 for daily updates on the flower's status.