Enchanting & epiphytic Encyclia


In 1929 Edward Bok, publisher and Pultizer-prize winning author, opened an informal woodland garden on a 298-foot high sandhill near Lake Wales to “touch the soul with its beauty and quiet” and as a bird sanctuary. Its lush live oak (Quercus virginiana) canopy beckons a bevy of birds (128 species according to the Bok Tower website) and is festooned with epiphytes.

Not far from a dramatic display of whisk fern grows butterfly orchid (Encylcia tampensis) — the orchid for which our barrier island is named “Orchid Island” –along with resurrection fern (Pleopeltis polypodioides). Take note of the number of spent flower stems present.

We see these and other epiphytes growing together at the Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area when the conditions (i.e., moisture, light) are right …


This photo was taken at south Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area where the scrubby pine flatwoods transition to moist oak hammock. In addition to butterfly orchid and resurrection fern, other epiphytes — Spanish moss (Tillandsia usenoides), lichens, and, in the upper right, southern needleleaf (Tillandsia setacea) — flourish.

Look closely at the butterfly orchid to see its pseudobulbs, storage organs specific to some orchid species …

Pictured below is Pelican Island Audubon Society Treasurer Steve Goff (Class of 2006) smiling as he places an orchid-laden branch in ‘storage’ with plants salvaged for re-planting at the Audubon House. The salvaged plants are flourishing due to the extraordinary efforts of Jean ‘JJ’ Romano (Class of 2013) assisted by Susan Warmer, Ken Gonyo, and Dr. Cynthia Lord.


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