It’s an orchid. That should be a wonderful addition to your yard! Right??
No, Chinese crown orchid (Eulophia graminea) is a Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council Category #2 invasive exotic pest plant, Many thanks to Donna Winter (Class of 2016) who shared these beautiful photos of a pretty plant that “volunteered” in her yard. Martha Willoughby (Class of Fall 1998) also reports battling this exotic pest plant in mulched areas of her yard.
This terrestrial Asian orchid was first “discovered” growing in mulch in Miami in 2006 and has spread into 12 additional counties according to the Florida Plant Atlas that is based on vouchered specimens. Brevard, thus far, is the limit of its northern reach.
The genus name, Eulophia, means good or beautiful plume and refers to the inflorescence. Pictures can be deceiving: Its flowers are tiny, about the size of a pencil eraser.
The species name, graminea, means grass-like and references its small, strap-like leaves, usually no more than 5, that grow from a pseudobulb, a storage organ associated with orchids. Neither the pseudobulb not the grass-like leaves are pictured here.
This terrestrial orchid from Asia is thought to have been introduced accidentally to Florida by orchid enthusiasts, has spread via mulch, and is known to invade a variety of habitats in south Florida including pine rockland, maritime hammock, pine flatwood, coastal strand, and cypress strand. Its is not yet at the Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area, but, please be on the lookout for it.
If you find this plant in your yard, dig it up as swiftly as you can.