NAPLES — Corkscrew Sanctuary could be hosting lots of orchid fans again during summer 2018, as its rare “super” ghost orchid is ready to bloom.
As of Aug. 8, the orchid has three flowers and four buds, which means it should bloom through mid-August and maybe longer.
The ghost orchid was made famous by the 2002 film Adaptation starring Meryl Streep and the best-selling Orchid Thief, by Susan Orlean.
In 2007, a volunteer spotted a ghost orchid in bloom along the boardwalk, prompting a spike in visitors and attention. The orchid had more blooms than any ghost orchid previously spotted and thus became known as a super-ghost.
The drama returned each summer when it bloomed. One year, the blooms disappeared overnight, the victim of hungry insects. In 2014, a second smaller ghost orchid was spotted.
Some years, the super ghost orchid has produced more than 40 blooms.
The super ghost is 50 feet in the air, 100 feet off the boardwalk. Visitors have to walk about a mile down the boardwalk to reach it. When it blooms, the sanctuary posts a sign and keeps a telescope there. (They recommend you bring binoculars.)
During past ghost-orchid blooms, many folks braved the heat for a summer visit. (I visited the sanctuary in June and there were no mosquitoes, only a few deer fly. Carrying plenty of water and prepared to sweat, I thought it was a lovely visit, so don’t be afraid of summer at Corkscrew.)
In previous years, the ghost orchid blooms were visible for several weeks in July and into August.
The woman who originally spotted the ghost orchid was looking for owls, according to the Audubon Society article. To make sure she could find the orchid again, she left her shoes to mark the spot while she searched for another witness.
The photo at left of previous ghost orchid blooms at Corkscrew is by Ralph Arwood and was featured on the Corkscrew web site.