Florida Butterfly Orchids

The Florida butterfly orchid grows in the swamps of central Florida.The Florida butterfly orchid is the most common wild orchid in the world. It grows on trees instead of the ground. They like the cypress, oak, pop ash, pond apple, cedar, palm and pine trees.They bloom between May and August being at their best around June.

 They have pseudo bulbs (fleshy bulb like stems that grow above ground) that are 1 inch or smaller in diameter. They support one or two slender stalks that grew from 6-12 inches in length. They also have slender leaves. They have roots that can be white and thin when they are dry. The root can grow up to 12 inches in length up and down the trunk of the trees they call home.

The beautiful, fragrant flower is about 1 inch to 11/2 inch across. They have green sepals. The petals come in many colors ranging from yellow to white. They always have just a touch of red or purple. Some of them are yellowish green in color and that makes them blend in with the trees very well. They seem to have a much stronger scent in the late morning hours.  

The botanical name of the Florida butterfly orchid is Encyclia tampensis. They grow best in full sunlight or partial shade. They will not grow well in fully shaded areas. They reproduce through spreading seeds and division or transplanting.

It is illegal to harvest the Florida butterfly orchid in the wild. There are some private owners that have had the species in their private gardens for many years Some families have passed them from one generation to the next.. They can and do sometimes give cuttings to friends and relatives. Some people also take the beautiful flower with them when they move from place to place.

It is hard to imagine anything else being prettier or more attractive to the eye than these wonderful orchids. While it is a shame that more people cannot enjoy them it, is also a good thing they are now protected or poachers would quickly wipe them out. Some people believe that the orchid is called the butterfly orchid because of the small fluttery butterfly like flowers while others seem to think it is because their fragrant and beautiful blooms attract butterflies. This doesn’t seem to be the case however because bees seem to be more attracted to them than butterflies.