Native Plant Society Learns About Orchids
By Vicki Jackson
An enlightening presentation about Florida's native orchids was given by Louis del Favero, proprietor of an area orchid nursery, and accompanied by unique photographs from the collection of Dr. Craig Huegel. The program at the July 7th meeting of the Native Plant Society reflected the lecturer's many years (forty-five) of experience in both growing and collecting orchids.
The seasoned collector reflected on the numerous trips he'd taken to find the hidden jewels, and recalled occasionally being able to sight as many as 50-60 plants in a day. He spoke of the presence of abundant populations, including the elusive "ghost orchid," on up until the late 1970's. He noted that some orchids are leafless, while others may be fragrant, and emit an aroma like honey, chocolate, or root beer. Sometimes they can be spotted even in urban sites, perhaps in an oak or mahogany tree, while others are found only in "secret spots."
He lamented the decline in the native orchid population in recent decades, due in large part to serious damage and loss of habit from "drainage projects and misguided development." Fire and adverse weather have also taken a toll.
Prohibitions on gathering native specimens preclude the "rescue" of endangered plant populations-it's illegal. According to the speaker, years ago such rules were greatly ignored. As a result, those early collectors of orchids inadvertently "pretty much saved" some species. With proper management of water (allowing it to stay high where it's needed), and fire, (allowing it to burn only where it should), he expressed some optimism for restoration.
NPS members and guests expect to catch a glimpse of such orchids on their field trip to Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, in Naples. Then, "Ecology of Springs" will be the featured topic on August 4th at the Native Plant Society. Meetings are held monthly at the Pinellas County Extension in Largo, and begin at 7:00 p.m. Refreshments are provided and visitors are always welcome. Watch for notices in this paper or check out www.nativeplantsociety.org for further information.
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