Quite some time ago, I transplanted a madagascar palm, and while so doing, caught sight of a tiny plant emerging nearby. It didn’t look like anything I’d sown, but it also didn’t appear “weed-like.” After a few seconds consideration, I decided to let it be…then promptly forgot about it.
Fast forward 6 weeks, to the day my orchids bloomed. I was searching Google to round out my knowledge of these beautiful flowers, when i read a description that reminded me of something I’d seen before: “A small terrestrial plant 4-25cm (1-1/2 to 10 in.) tall, with five to twelve lanceolate leaves that are green with purple and/or tan pigmentation, 1-8cm( 3/8 to 3 in.) long and up to 1 cm (~3/8 in.) wide. The flowers are white with a yellow lip narrowing at the base. There are five to fifty flowers in a terminal spike.”
I grabbed my camera and ran out to look for it:
Sure enough…right where I’d left it, with one big exception…it developed a flower!
Say hello to Zeuxine strateumatica, a lawn orchid with a very interesting history! Native to Southeast Asian rainforests, this little plant was first seen in the USA right here in Indian River County! Horticulturists theorize it arrived in 1936 via seedbags of centipede grass imported from China and spread quickly in our hot humid climate. It was said to “soldier on” resulting in a nickname “Soldier Orchid” for this completely non-threatening flower! 😉
In my research, I learned Z. strateumatica appears haphazardly, for reasons ill defined and less understood. Just because it grew this year, doesn’t mean it will return next, or any year, hereafter! I’m so glad I didn’t pluck it and chuck it in my overzealous desire to be weed free. How easily I might have missed my one and only chance to see something special.
So the moral of the story is this: Sometimes looking DOWN, requires a great deal of “looking up” to make sense of what you’ve seen. 🙂
Until next time….Soldier on! 😉 🙂