Cypress Cathedral

Everglades National Park

Descriptive Transcript

Description Narrator: A group of alligators thrash into the water. Fish swim around underwater vegetation. A controlled fire burns a habitat. A bird appears in a hole in a dead tree. A ranger gives a guided canoe tour. Aerial footage of Mangroves. A snail glides along a tree branch.

Everglades National Park. National Park Service logo.

Cypress Cathedral.

A view of a Cypress Dome Habitat from a car window. A snake lays coiled on a downed log in a cypress forest. A bromeliad on a tree branch.

Kathleen: Whoops. [Humming] Wow, that is so cool!

Dick: Wow!

Description Narrator: Kathleen and Dick walk through water in a cypress forest examining the endangered Cowhorn orchid.

Kathleen: Do you want to see the coolest things about this orchid here that we found out after looking at it. See how this is not a flower.

Dick: Oh my gosh!

Kathleen: This is a kind of a bract here. I just can’t imagine what it is doing here.

Description Narrator: The leaves of the orchid are yellow and green with reddish-brown spots.

Dick: This is an amazing place. We call it our cypress cathedral.

Description Narrator: Kathleen trips in a hole under the water.

Kathleen: Whoops! There’s that same hole that I fell into before.

Dick: You never learn do you, dear? [Laughter]

Description Narrator: Text: Kathleen and Dick have been volunteers at Everglades National Park for eight years leading ranger tours and assisting researchers.

Kathleen is also a botanical illustrator.

Samples of Kathleen’s work, in pencil and black ink.

Kathleen: You’re here in our trailer in the community of Pine Island where the volunteers, and the rangers, and other support people live.

Description Narrator: Kathleen flips through pages of her portfolio at a table outside their trailer.

Kathleen: And we are here in the Everglades National Park during winter, or the dry season. You know, usually what I do is I take the plant and I pose it here in the studio. Studio, you know…maybe not call it a studio.

Description Narrator: Kathleen stands at the door to their trailer.

Kathleen: So then, I make the drawing, and then with a light table I turn it into an ink rendering.

The Cowhorn orchid will probably take me six weeks to two months to do in watercolor. It is a process of just deeper and deeper observation.

Description Narrator: Back at the Cypress Dome, Dick sits on a portable stool taking notes on a notebook in his lap. Kathleen stands next to a tree closely examining the bark, with the Cowhorn orchid in the foreground.

A closeup of Kathleen wearing a wide-brimmed hat with a Volunteer National Park Service patch. She matches color swatches to the plant and reads off numbers to Dick.

Text: They are both retired professors from Massachusetts.

Kathleen shows her sketchbook to the camera. Various angles and closeups of the plant are sketched in pencil.

Kathleen: Try to get the best… Tried to get some close ups, some real studies of the different elements. So, in here we have the pseudobulbs and the flowers. And a look inside to see the parts of the flower, you know, the sexual parts. This is the capsule. Looking at the leaves of the orchid. Trying to get a realistic representation of the actual plant, but in small.

Description Narrator: Close-up views of the parts of the orchid plant that Kathleen is explaining.

Kathleen: Because I am going to have to go back and just, you know, reconstruct it in a way that’s going to be useful for the people looking at it and not too wildly crazy for me to draw.

Description Narrator: The completed sketch of the plant is shown over the video.

Dick: Kathleen?

Kathleen: Yeah?

Dick: Look at this. The little holdfasts are almost kind of a gold color.

Description Narrator: Dick closely examines a tiny air plant on a tree.

Kathleen: Yeah…Yeah, but you don’t see those on the bigger ones.

Dick: No, on the bigger ones, just on the little ones, that’s because they are just getting attached.

Speaker 1: What are you guys looking at?

Kathleen: These are Tillandsias.

Dick: Little babies.

Kathleen: Little air plant. They’re called Few-leaved air plants.

Dick: When they get big, they get completely underneath the rough bark.

Kathleen: Alright, I am sketching now.

Dick: Okay. Sketch away!

Kathleen: The story is that my mother always told me that I couldn’t draw a straight line.

Description Narrator: Kathleen and Dick are back in the living room of their trailer.

Kathleen: I took a watercolor, botanical watercolor class at Fairchild, and I liked it. You get a good teacher like I have, and that teacher will say, “No, you don’t draw the plant as you see it. You draw it as you want others to perceive it.”

Description Narrator: Back in the habitat, Kathleen takes photos with a small digital camera.

Kathleen: So, after I make those sketches then I’ll photograph the plant. And I'll photograph it intensively because a lot of times when I reconstruct the plant, I will do it from the photographs. So, after the photographs and the sketching, then we take everything back and I assemble all this, and I begin the composition process. And then I sit down, and I do the botanical, actual watercolors.

Description Narrator: Dick and Kathleen examine a Gold Foot Fern growing from a tree. The scene fades to Kathleen’s ink drawing of the fern.

Kathleen: No spores yet, there should be.

Dick: I think they might have a fruiting body I don't know.

Kathleen: I think a spore is starting. They’re really cool...

Dick: But look at that new fern coming out there.

Look at this fig growing out of here. Isn't that wild! Look, it is going to strangle this... Geesh!

Description Narrator: They continue to wade through the water with walking sticks.

Text: Kathleen is creating botanical illustrations for trail guides and signs in Everglades National Park.

Dick: Here’s another Gold foot, they’re everywhere! You know, I never noticed them so much before.

Kathleen: Something about the Everglades called to our hearts. Every year that we come back, we find out something new, and we just keep learning. So, I think that’s why it is, it’s so complex, there are so many levels. And, of course, now with me being able to do art... That’s a whole other level that has been really wonderful.

Description Narrator: A purple flower with yellow stamens sprouts from the red bracts of a Tillandsia. A Red-bellied woodpecker eats from the flowering part and flies away.

Text: One month later…

Branches are baren and the Cypress Dome is dry. The Cowhorn Orchid is without color and wilted.

Text: Cowhorn Orchid (dormant). Peak dry season.

Dick: We came here at the end of November, and next year we’ll be here at the beginning of November.

Kathleen: Because I’ve got an art show in the Coe Visitor Center.

Description Narrator: Dick and Kathleen pose outside of their trailer in the park housing community. The frame transitions, showing vacant trailer pads.

Text: Kathleen’s botanical art show was on display at the Ernest Coe Visitor Center during November 2009. With samples of Kathleen’s ink illustrations.

A real Cowhorn orchid is compared to Kathleen’s completed, watercolor illustration.


U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service.

Everglades National Park. National Park logo.

Everglades National Park video.

Featuring: Dr. Kathleen Konicek-Moran, Dr. Dick Konicek-Moran,

Producer, Director, Editor: Jennifer Brown.

Executive Producers: Allyson Gantt, Greg Litten, Alan Scott.

Technical Support: Andrew Pringle.

Music performed by: Clay Carrington, ‘Acoustic Guitar Melodies’, and Jami Sieber, ‘Invisible Wings’ from the Lush Mechanique album, Magnatunes Records,


Video about volunteers and botanical illustration in a cypress dome (7 min. with closed-captions).


7 minutes, 28 seconds


NPS video by Jennifer Brown

Date Created


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