Chasing Ghosts - A New Discovery That Upends What We Thought We Know About Ghost Orchids
How one of the world’s most iconic flowers reproduces
By: THURSD. | 05-05-2021 | 2 min read
Deep in remote Florida swamps, a team of researchers and photographers have made a new discovery that upends what we thought we knew about the ghost orchid, one of the world’s most iconic flowers, and how it reproduces.
Identifying the Pollinator of the Ghost Orchid
What insect has the ability to extend down into the nearly foot-long nectar tube of the ghost orchid? For generations, that question has interested researchers who’ve speculated that the giant sphinx moth, which has a proboscis that often exceeds 10 inches, was one of few species with a tubular tongue that could reach the sticky pollen nestled inside the endangered flower.
A Short Documentary by Grizzly Creek Flims
Shot during the course of three years, a short documentary by Grizzly Creek Films follows researchers committed to proving this hypothesis. It draws on Charles Darwin’s 160-year-old studies about orchids’ evolution, particularly in relation to one species in Madagascar. In “Chasing Ghosts,” the team wades into the buggy swamplands of south Florida to reach a grove of cypress trees, where the white flowers wrap themselves high among the boughs. There they installed cameras to capture the first-ever photograph of the giant sphinx moth probing the ghost orchid.
Deeper Love For Florida's Wildest Wetlands
In their quest to identify the pollinator of the ghost orchid for the first time, this team spent three summers standing waist-deep in alligator- and snake-laden water, swatting air blackened by mosquitoes, and climbing to sometimes nausea-inducing heights. They came away with an even deeper love for Florida’s wildest wetlands—and with surprising revelations that may help to conserve both the endangered orchid and its shrinking home.
Watch the full documentary below or find more information about this project and other discoveries of their team on the Grizzly Creek Films’ site and Instagram.