ghost orchid

Delicate Ionopsis, Delicate Violet Orchid (Ionopsis utricularoides)

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:   Epidendroideae -
                    Tribe:   Maxillarieae - Maxillaria and related
                      Subtribe:   Oncidiinae - Oncidium and related


Distribution Map:
Distribution map for Delicate Ionopsis, Delicate Violet Orchid (Ionopsis utricularoides)
Description:
Summary: Plant an epiphyte with small fans of succulent leaves and thread-like roots. Spikes emerge from between the leaves to bear a branching panicle of 1cm wide flowers. Flowers white typically with pink stripes and a yellow throat.

Common Name: Delicate Ionopsis, Delicate Violet Orchid

Habitat: Twig epiphyte inhabiting the swamps of southern Florida.

Flowering season: December through April

Images:
 
Delicate Ionopsis (Ionopsis utricularoides)
Delicate Ionopsis (Ionopsis utricularoides)
Delicate Ionopsis (Ionopsis utricularoides)
Delicate Ionopsis (Ionopsis utricularoides)
Delicate Ionopsis (Ionopsis utricularoides)
Delicate Ionopsis (Ionopsis utricularoides)

Description:
 

This is a rather common orchid in the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America, less so in Florida, where it grows in the southern swamps, protected from the extremes of cold weather by the water nearby.

Plants typically grow on small branches and twigs on the periphery of various hardwoods in these swamps, where their small fans of almost succulent leaves hold on to their host by slender, white roots.

Their branching panicles of flowers emerge from an axil between the leaves, bearing many small (1 cm) snowflake-like flowers. Plants can bloom for many months and, even after the main blooming is over, can produce additional blooming stems from inactive nodes.

Like many other plants related to the equitant Oncidiums, plants of this species in cultivation typically do not live very long, being prone to rots that very quickly destroy the plant. It is unknown how long individual plants may live in the wild, but it is surmised that many of these twig epiphytes are not terribly long-lived, but rather depend on copious seeding of the nearby branches to establish colonies of plants that will long outlast any individual plant.

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