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South Florida is home to a number of native species of orchids. The Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge has 27 known species, including Prosthechea cochleata, the clamshell orchid, which is listed as endangered on Florida's Regulated Plant Index. In a prior study done on this species in Mexico, P. cochleata was found to produce no floral fragrance at the particular study location. However, blooming orchids of this species at the University of Florida in Gainesville, were noted to be fragrant. In this paper, we document the presence of floral fragrance compounds from P. cochleata by using by gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC/MS) analysis of headspace volatile collection. The orchids sampled were found to be consistently producing eight volatiles that are common in floral fragrances, including those of previous orchid species studied. By knowing the fragrance compounds produced, we can better understand the pollination biology of this endangered orchid. This information could be used to help future conservation efforts for P. cochelata by increasing pollination and subsequent seed capsule production.
author list (cited authors)
Ray, H. A., Stuhl, C. J., & Gillett-Kaufman, J. L.