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Ghost Orchid

Aphyllorchis montana


Leafless mycoheterotrophic orchid, flowers approx. 2cm across, totally lacking chlorophyll and known as a 'Ghost' as it is only visible at time of flowering. Unusual of its kind as it has been found to be reliant on a broad range of fungi to associate with its roots and supply a source of carbon. The fungi are all ectomycorrhizal, forming relationships with various trees.


Tropical Asian Dipterocarp forests.


This kind of orchid has been wrongly classed as saprophytic for decades! As saprophytes feed on dead organic matter, in this case, not even the fungi Aphyllorchis montana associates with are saprophytes and orchids that have this kind of relationship are essentially parasitic on the fungi, hence the term mycoheterotroph.

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AshleyBradford 12 years ago

Really good stuff! Cool photos at those links. I haven't seen one, and in fact haven't gotten to see very many orchids in the wild at all. A few around here and a few in Alaska where I barely had to try to see them all over certain places. Here I do have to try hard - and I really need to try hardER in order to see more!

craigwilliams 12 years ago

Yep, the Florida Ghost, Dendrophylax lindenii has had some very high profile exposure over the years! Have you ever seen one? It's part of a whole group of orchids called ghost because they are leafless, photosynthesise with their roots and are only really conspicuous when the flower. I saw loads of Taeniophyllum in South East Asia:
and even a Chiloschista:
but the Florida Ghost has a huge flower in comparison to these and is even exceptionally charismatic for its genus. One day I really hope to try and see one in the wild, if only for its amazing habitat.

AshleyBradford 12 years ago

Wow, interesting one. There is a rather well-known orchid that grows in Florida known as the "Ghost Orchid", which is also leafless, but looks very different from this one.

Spotted by

เชียงใหม่, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Spotted on Sep 9, 2010
Submitted on Oct 11, 2011

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