ghost orchid

Water Spider Orchid (Habenaria repens)

Part of the Florida's Native and Naturalized Orchids Website

Classification:
  Kingdom:   Plantae - Plants
    Subkingdom:   Tracheobionta - Vascular Plants
      Superdivision:   Spermatophyta - Seed plants
        Division:   Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
          Class:   Liliopsida - Monocotyledons
            Subclass:   Liliidae - Subclass containing lily and orchid relatives
              Order:   Orchidales - Orchid order
                Family:   Orchidaceae - Orchid Family
                  Subfamily:   Orchidiodeae -
                    Tribe:   Orchideae - Orchidoids.
                      Subtribe:   Orchidinae - Orchis and related.


Distribution Map:
Distribution map for Water Spider Orchid (Habenaria repens)
Description:
Summary: Terrestrial herbs to 24 inches (61 cm) tall bearing few to many green, spidery flowers each approximately one half inch (1.2 cm) across. Triangular leaves large basally, clasping, becoming smaller as they proceed up the stem.

Common Name: Water Spider Orchid

Habitat: Terrestrial/aquatic along stream margins, pond margins, lake margins, and wet ditches.

Flowering season: January through December (peaking in June)

Images:
 
Water Spider Orchid (Habenaria repens)
Water Spider Orchid (Habenaria repens)
Water Spider Orchid (Habenaria repens)
Water Spider Orchid (Habenaria repens)
Water Spider Orchid (Habenaria repens)
Water Spider Orchid (Habenaria repens)
Water Spider Orchid (Habenaria repens)
Water Spider Orchid (Habenaria repens)
Water Spider Orchid (Habenaria repens)
Water Spider Orchid (Habenaria repens)
Water Spider Orchid (Habenaria repens) - Full flower spike
Water Spider Orchid (Habenaria repens) - Full flower spike
Water Spider Orchid (Habenaria repens) - Flower Closeup Shot
Water Spider Orchid (Habenaria repens) - Flower Closeup Shot

Description:
 

This rather common species of orchid is, nevertheless, rather difficult to find in its native environment, owing to the fact that the plant is entirely green with greenish flowers, which blends in very nicely in the wet areas that this orchid calls home. It is one of just a few terrestrial orchids in the state that could be considered a true aquatic, growing happily in standing water, as well as in the moist soils surrounding water bodies. It is often found in the same sort of environment that supports Pickerel Weed (Pontederia cordata) and Duck Potato (Sagittaria latifolia).

This species bears diminutive, spidery flowers about 1/2 to 3/4 inch (1.25 to 2 cm) across. Upon first glance, the floral structure of the flowers can be confusing--there appear to be eight floral parts, which would not follow the usual orchid plan of three sepals and three petals. Closer examination solves the puzzle: the petals are, rather unusual among orchids, deeply bilobed, with the upper lobe hugging the margin of the dorsal sepal and the lower lobe curving out and upward. The lip is deeply trilobed, with two narrow side lobes and one thicker central lobe. A spur extends down from the rear of the lip, forming a narrow nectary filled with nectar for only the last few millimeters. This forces its pollinator (a night flying moth with a long proboscis) to push its head into the column where pollinia are deposited or removed, as the case may be.

Reproducing both sexually and vegetatively via stolons, this orchid will often form dense colonies. During the evening and nighttime hours, these orchids' flowers emit a very powerful fragrance, apparently to attract night-flying moths.

Return to the Gallery of Native Orchids


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