Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Cyclopogon cranichoides (Griseb.) Schltr. a terrestrial orchid with very dark leaves in the Rio Abajo forest in Puerto Rico

I have passed through the part of the Rio Abajo forest where this orchid grows literally thousands of times.   I had never noticed than an orchid was growing in the place where this orchid lives.  The main reason is that is is a muddy shallow ditch that is normally covered with dead leaves unless a particularly strong rain shower washes them away.  The color of the leaves of this orchid is a good mimicry of the color of the dead and decaying leaves that cover the area most of the time.

I probably would have never stopped to look at the spot if I had not noticed the inflorescence.  The color of the leaves hide them from sight but apparently some animal found them tasty and took out a few bites from them.  The flowers are nodding and tiny so getting a good photo was a bit of a challenge.  This is the only plant of this species I have been able to find in this location.  Nearby there are plants of Erythrodes, Ponthieva, Cranichis and Oeceoclades orchids growing on the ground.

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