ghost orchid

Grass-leaved Eulophia; Chinese Crown Orchid (Eulophia graminea)

Part of the Florida's Native and Naturalized Orchids Website

  Kingdom:   Plantae - Plants
    Subkingdom:   Tracheobionta - Vascular Plants
      Superdivision:   Spermatophyta - Seed plants
        Division:   Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
          Class:   Liliopsida - Monocotyledons
            Subclass:   Liliidae - Lily/related subclass
              Order:   Orchidales - Orchid order
                Family:   Orchidaceae - Orchid Family
                  Subfamily:   Epidendroideae - Epidendroids
                    Tribe:   Cymbidieae - Cymbidium tribe.
                      Subtribe:   Eulophiinae - Eulophia and related.

Distribution Map:
Distribution map for Grass-leaved Eulophia; Chinese Crown Orchid (Eulophia graminea)
Synonyms: Eulophia gusukumae; Graphorkis decipiens; Graphorkis graminea;

Summary: Robust and aggressively spreading non-native orchid found frequently in mulched landscape beds (where is has likely hitchhiked in on the mulch). Plant consists of underground pseudobulbs with stiffened, grassy leaves. Flowering stem a raceme to panicle, bearing many green-pink flowers that rapidly develop into seed pods. Considered a type 2 (somewhat invasive) plant on the FLEPPC list.

Common Name: Grass-leaved Eulophia; Chinese Crown Orchid

Habitat: Semi-moist areas with a strong affinity to mulched landscape beds. Recently found in abundance in a few pine rockland habitats.

Flowering season: January through December (peaking in June)

Grass-leaved Eulophia/Chinese Crown Orchid Flower Closeup
Grass-leaved Eulophia/Chinese Crown Orchid Flower Closeup
Grass-leaved Eulophia/Chinese Crown Orchid Flower Stems
Grass-leaved Eulophia/Chinese Crown Orchid Flower Stems
Grass-leaved Eulophia/Chinese Crown Orchid Plant Structure
Grass-leaved Eulophia/Chinese Crown Orchid Plant Structure


This species is perhaps the one most often seen in identification inquiries sent to this website.

It was first observed in 2006 in mulched beds in the Kendall area of Florida. It has since spread, aided by the widespread use of wood mulch, to many parts of peninsular Florida. It is hard to venture out anywhere in central to southern Florida without seeing at least a few of these poking their flower stems up between landscaped bushes in parking lot and roadway medians. It has even recently been seen in the Houston, Texas area--its first appearance outside of the state of Florida. Considering its relative cold tolerance in its native Asiatic home, it will likely spread northward out of Florida in the future.

This being said, this species still spreads at the rate of an orchid, which is still slower, owing to its need for a symbiotic fungus for seeds to germinate, than many other non-native species. Like the European Epipactis helleborine in the northern parts of the US, this orchid can be the cause of widespread panic, and many alarmist articles and television news segments have capitalized on these fears. Gardeners wanting to feel environmentally conscious can simply remove the seed pods as they form, but the impact on the spread of this species in Florida will be effectively zero.

In general, these plants tend to grow where few other plants will, pushing up through the mulch with their stiffened, light green leaves that may or may not persist into flowering. Their pseudobulbs, sometimes peeking above-ground have a somewhat onion-like appearance. Flower spikes emerge from buds along the upper portion of these pseudobulbs, rising to heights of 30 inches (76 cm). Flower stems can either be unbranched (a raceme) or branched (a panicle), bearing up to 60 flowers, each a bit under an inch in width. The flower consists of three greenish-brown sepals spreading behind the corolla (itself consisting of the two greenish petals and a white/pink lip). The lip is white on the margins with a pink center. It is covered with many hair-like bristles in shades of pink and white.

Individual plants appear to be relatively short-lived, relying on the production of new individuals to maintain populations.

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