Monday, November 3, 2014

A Hasty Case For Naturalizing Epiphytes

Reply to thread... Video of Cattleya Blooming on my Tree


Thanks! Regarding your honest questions...well...did you ever see the SNL skit with Christopher Walken where he needs more cowbell? I guess I'm the same way with orchids on trees. When I drive around Southern California I shout out the window..."all these trees need more orchids!"

As far back as I can remember I've always been a fan of more nature. When I was a kid my mom bought me the book "Vanishing Eden". It was filled with pages and pages of plants and animals that I really didn't want to vanish. Shortly afterwards I saw Bladerunner for the first time. I really loved the movie but I really didn't want the future to look like that.

Basically, when people attach orchids and other epiphytes to trees...they help to offset the loss of nature elsewhere. There's a lot of nature being lost it's not just sufficient to add plants to the's necessary to add plants to trees. Doing so helps to create a virtuous cycle.

An orchid on a tree will help widely disperse far more necessary fungus than an orchid in a pot will. Here's how I've illustrated this...

When more fungus is dispersed to surrounding trees...this increases the chances that orchid seeds will germinate on them. So more orchids on trees will lead to more orchids on trees.

Orchids and other epiphytes on trees help facilitate cascades. As we all know too well...orchids are an excellent source of food for a wide variety of "pests". But adding an orchid to a tree doesn't just provide more food for aphids, mealy bugs, slugs and bush also provides more food for the spiders, lady bugs and lizards that eat these pests. Plus, an epiphyte on a tree can provide shelter and a home for all sorts of animals. Flowering epiphytes can also provide nectar to a wide variety of pollinators.

In addition to facilitating's important to naturalize orchids because this helps to subject them to the process of natural selection. The more orchids that sidestep this selection process...the less orchids that will be able to survive in nature. The world is constantly if nature changes in one direction...but orchids change in another direction...then in the future we will only be able to see orchids in conservatories. We're not doing anybody any favors by overly protecting orchids from cold or drought.

The orchid family is so successful because they throw a lot of seeds at nature. If we want the orchid family to continue being so successful... then we have to help orchids throw more seeds at nature. If we help throw enough orchid seeds at nature...then it doesn't matter if future conditions are colder/hotter or wetter/drier...there will be plenty of orchids that have sufficiently suitable combinations of traits.

Perhaps it's somehow inevitable that the future will have plenty of trees with orchids growing on them. I don't think this is the case though. I regularly search flickr for orchid tree...and the rate of relevant additions is pretty low. So I do what I can to try and help encourage more people to think outside the pot.

What do you think? Do I need to be so persistent? Does your individual foresight show you a future with an abundance of orchids on trees? Will the world look like more like heaven...or...?

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