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Rare 'Super' Ghost Orchid in bloom in Southwest Florida

Posted at 9:57 AM, Jun 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-28 09:57:30-04

COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. -- Orchid lovers in Southwest Florida now have the chance to witness really rare and endangered plant in bloom this summer.

It's at Audubon's Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary.

The sanctuary says the first flower bloom of the “Super” Ghost Orchid this year appeared on Thursday, and they expect more blooms to come as several buds have been spotted.

Super Ghost Orchid in bloom.jpg
Photo of "Super" Ghost Orchid in Corkscrew Swamp in September, 2018.

The plant has attracted thousands of people to visit the sanctuary.

This particular plant is perched 50 feet up in an old growth bald cypress tree 100 feet off the Sanctuary’s famous boardwalk, so the blooms usually can’t be seen with just the naked eye.

The Sanctuary positions a spotting scope to aid, but it can also bee seen with binoculars or powerful camera zoom lenses.

This “Super” Ghost Orchid was first discovered in 2007, but is likely decades old.

In 2018, the plant was in bloom from early July until late September. And though it usually blooms in summer, it has bloomed in every month at least once over the years.

The first ever Ghost Orchid was discovered in Cuba in 1844. It is found only in Cuba and in Florida's Fakahatchee/Big Cypress/Corkscrew Swamp areas.

Centuries of illegal poaching and habitat loss has led to the Ghost Orchid being listed as endangered by the state of Florida.

The Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is open daily from 7 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. with the last admission to the boardwalk at 4:30 p.m. It's located in outside Naples off Immokalee Road.