1. Fil says

    Orchids are responsible for terrible acts of violence and theft apparently. I knew this horticulturist and member of an orchid society. He was robbed of all his rare orchids one night (must have been the flower-power special forces, he didn’t hear a thing) and knew of others who came to blows over the little darlings.

    I like them and even had a property where quite some very pretty ones grew in abundance, but I much preferred the little venus fly traps that also grew there.

  2. Ol'Greg says

    Oooh I read about this yesterday or so. But I still don’t understand from the article even if this is going to be a single flower or if the population of ghost orchids may be saved? Anyone know more about this?

    It’s stupid but I really like plants. I was actually upset when that rare pine was stolen for a Christmas tree :(

  3. ronsullivan says

    Ol’ Greg, #4: It’s stupid but I really like plants.

    Ahem. Nothing stupid about that. The better you know them, the more amazing they get.

  4. Paguroidea says

    @7 – I agree. The photo of the orchid doesn’t capture the ghost part but the linked article explains it.

    “It looks extraordinary. It produces these flowers without chlorophyll which in the dim light look like ghosts, and if you shine a torch beam on them they appear to be translucent white in the pitch darkness, almost like a photographic negative.”

    Interestingly, there are both Eurasian Ghost Orchids and American Ghost Orchids.

  5. Brian English says

    PZ, can you read this article and use help stop the slaughter of Kangaroos due to rampant development on the suburban edge of Melbourne? I live near this place and enjoyed seeing this mob of Kangaroos each day, but worried for their safety due to encroaching development and traffic. They disappeared around Christmas time, and I’d hoped they’d been relocated as I knew that Wildlife Victoria were trying to do just that and had a place and funds to do so. It turns out the DSE (Department of Scorched Earth) secretly had the Kangaroos shot due to the false claim that they were lacking water and couldn’t be moved. They only revealed that they’d killed the Kangaroos when forced to, otherwise they’d have kept mum. The real reason is the DSE and state Government don’t want to set a precedent. They don’t want the bother of relocating Kangaroos the next time this arrises as it’s just easier and cheaper to shoot them at night and hope no one notices. The DSE is suppose to protect native animals and their habitat, not manage their destruction. According to the DSE it’s for the animals own wellbeing to be destroyed than relocated.

    There are other mobs of Kangaroos on Melbourne’s outskirts under similar threat and will be more if development is unchecked. If there isn’t a stink kicked up about this, the Government will slaughter these mobs and just let developers chip away at the land the Kangaroos occupy until there is nowhere for them to go, then of course, they’ll say they have no choice to slaughter them. Please help if you can. I don’t want the Grey Kangaroo or any species of native wildlife such as the Wombat, which is being decimated by development, to become locally extinct.

    (article about the plight of the Kangaroos from a few years ago. Some of the Roos have now been killed, others nearby are in danger.)

    (article about the killing of one mob of Roos at the start of the year.)

    (DSE press release from a few days ago that was forced by repeated requests regarding the where-abouts of the Kangaroos.)

  6. Brian English says

    The article to read is the second one. The others I put in for background info.

  7. Die Anyway says

    There is also a ghost orchid that lives in the Florida swamps, primarily in the Everglades. It’s not so rare as the British version but still comparatively rare. My friend Jeff Ripple who does nature photography has managed to find and photograph a few:

  8. Sili says


    There was an episode of Midsomer Murders dealing with (as always) multiple murders in the orchid collector community.

  9. vreejack says

    Not sure what the fungus gets out of this “symbiotic” relationship. The plant produces no sugars.

    I believe I’ve seen these things before, though, in the mid-1970’s in a private hunting preserve in Herefordshire. Very dense, dark forest probably less than 20 acres (it looked very small). I knew the plant looked creepy but it took me a while to realize why. Had almost completely forgotten about it until now.

  10. Butch Pansy says

    A personal favorite is the Corallorhiza maculata, widespread throughout the forested western United States. Here’s an interesting article about the little cheaters I was taught that there are no parasitic orchids, only saprophytes; if only the orchid is benefiting form the relationship, as this one seems to be, that sounds like parasitism to me. Regardless, this chain of thought makes me miss living on the isolated Mendocino coast just a bit. Mushroom foraging was one of my favorite wet-season pastimes. Craterallus _cornucopiodes

  11. Butch Pansy says

    I meant to say “yum!” about the black trumpets, my personal favorite mushroom. Cantharellus_cibarius is a close second. I shouldn’t have skipped breakfast. I guess it’s time for brunch!

  12. vasha7 says

    As more studies are done on the relationship between orchids and fungi, it’s beginning to seem like most orchids are indeed parasites, tricking the fungi into feeding them. That could explain why there are so many species of orchids, and so many rare ones: each is closely adapted to a single species of fungus (since parasitism tends to produce a coevolutionary arms race).

  13. Sven DiMilo says

    There is also a ghost orchid that lives in the Florida swamps, primarily in the Everglades.

    see comment 3 above