Oeceoclades maculata

monk orchid

Nonnative to Florida

Species Overview

Native to : Tropical Africa 

Monk orchid was introduced into Florida prior to 1974, but has since escaped cultivation. It has spread throughout Florida and is rapidly colonizing new habitats. By 2001, it was found in more than 70 conservation areas throughout south Florida from disturbed uplands, pine rocklands, prairie, rockland hammocks, pine flatwoods, maritime forests, and hardwood hammocks. In 2001 it was classified as a Category II invasive species by FLEPPC and targeted for removal from commercial production by Florida Growers Associations. Monk orchid was subsequently removed from the FLEPPC list in 2003.

Species Characteristics

  • Family: Orchidaceae
  • Habit: terrestrial or epilithic herb up to 40 cm tall; pseudo-bulbs ovoid and clustered up to 4 cm long
  • Leaves: each pseudo-bulb produces a single leaf; glossy, dark green, with silvery gray mottling up to 30 cm long and 5 cm wide, fleshy, lanceolate to elliptic; margins entire, base appearing petiolate, tips acute; blade slightly folded lengthwise down the middle
  • Flowers: solitary, up to 40 cm long, with 5-20 flowers that mature sequentially; flowers up to 1.5 cm across, light brown, cream or greenish pink, with one large lower petal (“lip”) deeply 3-lobed and white with purple lines; typically blooms September-December in Florida
  • Fruit: pendant capsule 2-3 cm long
  • Seeds: abundant and minute
  • Distribution in Florida: central and south

This nonnative terrestrial ground orchid is often found in leaf litter.


Monk orchid has a variety of traits which contribute to its ability to invade natural areas. It tolerates a wide range of environmental factors, reproduces efficiently and grows rapidly. It is able to inhabit dry and wet forests, as well as coastal forests and disturbed areas. Each fruit produced by this plant can produce thousands to millions of small seeds. This fast-growing species is capable of growing from seedling to reproductive stage in approximately one year. It grows rapidly, colonizing new areas and forming dense stands, where it inferes with seedling germination and establishment of young, native plants.  

The UF/IFAS Assessment lists monk orchid as a species of caution for all of Florida. 

Control Methods

Preventive Measures

Regular monitoring and removal of plants can prevent the spread and establishment of monk orchid. Programs to educate homeowners on proper plant identification will also reduce the spread of this species. While monk orchid remains commerically available, it is advised to refrain from planting this agressive nonnative.


Plants should be dug out and fruits should be bagged and disposed of properly. However, it may be impractical for dense infestations.


Hand-digging is effective for removing monk orchid from the landscape, though this method may present challenges in heavily infested areas. 


There are no known biological control agents for monk orchid.


There is limited data for the chemical control of monk orchid. If you have information or need more information, please contact the Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants. 

Learn more about this species