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.