The Big Island of Hawaii has perfect growing conditions for many tropical orchids. One type frequently found there is Spathoglottis plicata, or the Philippine ground orchid. Unlike most commonly cultivated varieties, it’s a terrestrial, meaning that it grows in soil.
This orchid is native to a large area of south Asia, stretching from India through Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, northern Australia, the Philippines, Taiwan, the Japanese Ryukyus, Fiji, Samoa, and other south Pacific islands. Although not native to Hawaii, it has naturalized there, and enjoys growing where it receives full sun, regular water, regular fertilizer, and warm temperatures. It has also naturalized in other tropical areas of the world, including the Caribbean and southern Florida.
One reason the Spathoglottis has spread around the world is due to its ability to self-pollinate. This species is one of a handful of orchids that don’t need a pollinator to carry pollen from one plant to another. Instead they can fertilize themselves with their own pollen. Many plants we saw on the Big Island were full of seedpods like those shown below, demonstrating the success of this adaptation.
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