Native to Florida and the Bahamas, and another variety in Cuba, E. tampensis is an epiphyte most commonly found growing on southern live oaks but also on pond apples, mangroves, Bald Cypress, pines and palms in tropical hardwood hammocks and along rivers. Vouchered specimens have been cataloged by USF as far north as Levy and Putnam Counties. They are also found in the salty Florida Keys.
The Encyclia tampensis has dark green 7 cm pseudobulbs with narrow foliage up to 16 cm in length and 2 cm in width. Mature plants produce a branched inflorescence in Summer containing several flowers with green to bronze sepals and petals surrounding a white lip with a purple dot. Flowers are alternate, 2.5 cm in diameter and fragrant. They are also called butterfly orchids because of how they sometimes appear in a breeze.
There are some variations in color and markings that exist such as Cuba's encyclia tampense var amesiana and the "alba" or white variety.
Despite being one of Florida's most prolific native orchids, Florida considers E. tampensis a regulated plant needing protection from commercial exploitation. Which means people who want to harvest any for sale from the wild must get a permit. A permit is also required for collecting more than 2 for personal use from private lands, or any at all from public lands. Certified nurseries are specifically permitted to sell commercially grown protected plants.
- H. G. Reichenbach, "Orchides", nr. 55, in C. Müller, Ed. Walpers. Annales Botanices Systematicae 6(1861)330, as "EPIDENDRUM TAMPENSE"
- http://www.orchidspecies.com/enctampense.htm Orchid Species site
- http://culturesheet.org/orchidaceae:encyclia:tampensis Culture Sheet Project
- "Featured Encyclia". Archived from the original on 20 May 2007. Retrieved 31 October 2008.
- http://florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/Plant.aspx?id=2477 University of South Florida Plant Atlas Online
- page 251 of Leonardo P. Felix and Marcelo Guerra: "Variation in chromosome number and the basic number of subfamily Epidendroideae (Orchidaceae)" Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 163(2010)234-278. The Linnean Society of London. downloaded October 2010 from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1095-8339.2010.01059.x/pdf
- Page 86 of Florida Rule 5B-40 regulated plant index.(PDF Alert) Archived 19 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine
- Florida Dept. of Agriculture Rule 5B-40.003
- Florida Title XXXV Chapter 581.185 Sec 7
- Media related to Florida Butterfly Orchid or Tampa Encyclia (Encyclia tampensis) at Wikimedia Commons
- Data related to Florida Butterfly Orchid or Tampa Encyclia (Encyclia tampensis) at Wikispecies