Onion Orchid?

Common plant names are, well, common and sometimes even crazy.  They are not standardized.  Anyone can “assign” a common name, and often the same common name is used for different plants, especially in different regions.

Somehow, Florida butterfly orchid or just butterfly orchid has come to the name used for Encyclia tampensis, the most common epiphytic orchid in Florida that is quite frequent on the deeply furrowed bark of live oaks (Querucs virginiana) at the Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area.  This bounteous orchid neither really resembles a butterfly nor is it thought to be pollinated by butterflies.  It is the orchid for which the barrier island in Indian River County is named Orchid Island.

Its coloration can be quite variable, but it always has pseudobulbs, specialized storage structures from which its sturdy dark-green grass-like leaves emanate. Given these pseudobulbs, some folks say that this orchid should be called the onion orchid …

The photo above was taken immediately after Hurricane Irma visited. Amazingly, some of the Florida butterfly — or onion — orchids were able to hang on to pods of seeds …

This species of orchids blooms during the late spring and early summer.  Soon, its pods will release their tiny seeds.  Hopefully, there are more of these iconic orchids soon-to-be.

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