An Exotic Orchid, Eulophia graminea, Invades Charlotte County

Ralph E Mitchell

Abstract


When we speak of exotic invasive plants, we often think of those that take over habitat, replace native vegetation, or fill an open niche. One such plant has quietly crept into several mulched landscape beds in parts of Charlotte County, Florida. This orchid, Eulophia graminea, is a type of ground orchid native to tropical and subtropical Asia where it can be found in a variety of habitats. It first showed up in Miami in 2007 and in Lee County in 2011, probably as a result of an escape from an orchid collector. E. graminea appears to favor mulched landscape beds in sunny locations. One specimen was found in a mulched palm collection at the Charlotte County Extension Demonstration Garden in Port Charlotte, and many more have been discovered throughout Charlotte County. The bulk of this plant is made up of a pseudobulb, a storage organ often associated with orchids. From this pseudobulb appear up to five short, strap-like leaves. At maturity this orchid produces tall racemes of small flowers. The flowers are not very attractive—a little white with pink and green—and seed pods eventually develop, producing tiny seeds. Orchids reproduce via pseudobulbs and dust-like seeds that can travel in the wind. This is probably how they have spread throughout our area. A brief observational study of this cryptic orchid will provide an overview of its invasive potential and biology.


Keywords


mycorrhizal, pseudobulbs, naturalize, cryptic, raceme

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Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc.     ISSN 0886-7283