The ephemeralness of this Orchid


It needs no leaves and can be dormant for 17 years

Crazy right? I didn’t know, until I saw this documentary that’s going viral. Well, not viral like Shakira and Beyonce’s video, but let’s just say it’s going around. I watched it a few hours ago and this is what I thought. In the order in which I thought it.

(after the first facts) “Oh, that’s interesting! Wow, no leaves? 17 years?! Cool!”

(about halfway through) “Importance of the species? Not really important…it doesn’t have any use, does it? What’s it for? Why should we bother trying to protect it? It probably doesn’t even sustain any pollinators as it flowers so sporadically and is so rare…?”

(during the last minute) “But why should something be useful to gain our attention and protection? Can’t we just decide to help another species for the sake of it? Because it’s strange a beautiful and unique?”

Cephalanthera austiniae lives in the Pacific NorthWest of America, the West Coast and in British Columbia in Canada. Its lack of leaves means it doesn’t make its own energy – yep, it’s parasitic. But unlike other parasites it isn’t directly attached to its primary source of energy, a tree or plant: it uses a fungus to connect it. Quite sophisticated really, and like this it lowers its chances of being “caught” by the plant police. 😉 It can wait for the perfect conditions for up to 17 years..but then it has to hope that the pollinators will find it and another one of its same species to be able to reproduce.

Did you cry a bit when you saw the video? I did. But then again, I’m highly emotional.

Will you share the documentary and spread the word?

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