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In Search of the Many-Flowered Grasspink Orchid

Many-flowered Grasspink Orchids

Very few people get to see the Many-flowered Grasspink Orchid (Calopogon multiflorus). This orchid appears only in very recently burned areas and blooms for just a few days. Until this year, my wife Marcia and I had only seen one batch of these beautiful orchids once before in central Florida, thanks to orchid expert Paul Martin Brown.

Earlier this summer, a friend of ours and another naturalist were actively searching recently burned areas in the Apalachicola National Forest looking for these elusive orchids. One morning, we received a call from our friend letting us know that they had found a few plants.

The orchids were not in the best of condition—in fact, they were pretty miserable, already shriveling as the morning advanced. That didn't matter to us. Besides wanting to see them again and in our local area, we also needed digital images. The orchids from years before obviously were on slide film.

Several weeks later, the same friend called us again about finding some more of the grasspink orchids by pure accident as she and some friends were walking across a burned area to admire some nearby wildflowers that bloomed after the fire. As luck would have it, a friend who was visiting us when she called happened to be an orchid lover so along he came with us as well. With directions in hand, off we went. These orchids were fresh and in much better shape than the previous miserable specimens.

Then, amazingly to us anyway, our friend reported once again that they had found a burned area that had hundreds of the Many-flowered Grasspink Orchids! It was almost getting to be a ho-hum occurrence to find these rare orchids. This probably is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us to see so many of the Calopogon orchids at one time.

A bit later, we revisited that site and found several orchids with capsules bursting with seeds.