Epipogium roseum (Ghost Orchid)

A leafless saprophyte, this orchid is commonly found in rainforest and shaded forest. It produces a white fleshy flower stem up to 60cm tall bearing a dozen or more cream lateral flowers (photo opposite).

Like all saprophytic orchids, it cannot be successfully transplanted or cultivated in the home garden. In the absence of chlorophyll in the leafless plant itself, it survives by living in a complex symbiotic relationship with a mycorrhizal fungus in its roots which provides the necessary nutrients for growth and reproduction. The fungus itself derives nutrients from a nearby source, either tree roots or rotting organic matter. If you are lucky enough to have any such orchid growing naturally, treasure it; it is the product of ecological complexity beyond any orchid-loving gardener!

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February 2006