Orchids of the Great Lakes

The Great Lakes region is a melting pot for orchids and many of the over 50 species of orchids that grow here also appear in the mountains to the west, New England, and the cool Appalachian uplands.
This month we explore the orchids of the Great Lakes region with Dale Fitch who quickly developed a passion for these wildflower aristocrats. This inspired a 12-year quest for Dale and his wife, Ruth- locate and photograph all of Michigan’s native orchids. Here are just a few of the treasures they found.


holiday-orchid-gamiThe holidays of December offer a great opportunity to gather the family and share holiday traditions — lighting candles, baking cookies, trimming the tree. This year we suggest a new tradition, orchid-gami.

We have completed designs for 25 of our native orchids and each day in December we will add one of the orchids here for you to download. We encourage you to be creative and find innovative ways to use these orchids — not just on gifts or the tree — these orchids would be right at home on your holiday table! Have fun with the family then explore the Go Orchids web site to learn more about your holiday orchid. Don’t forget to send us pictures of your holiday creations.
Go to the orchid-gami countdown!

Orchid Events

orchids: A MOMENT January 14 – May 14, 2017
Hirshhorn Museum, Smithsonian Institution Washington, DC
The Smithsonian Gardens and United States Botanic Garden 2017 Orchid Exhibition, showcases over 100 orchids in a limited-time display amidst the Hirshhorn’s unique architecture. Selected from the collections of both Smithsonian Gardens and the U.S. Botanic Garden, these stunning blooms are presented as colorful time-based installations, constantly changing throughout the exhibition’s four-month run. Visitors are encouraged to enjoy the exotic assemblage as a whole as well as each orchid as it stands in that moment, and return again and again to enjoy the display as it evolves. Experience your own moment knowing there will never be another one exactly like it. Details
Check out past exhibits!

Orchid Daze February 11 – April 9, 2017
Atlanta Botanical Garden Atlanta, GA
Explore the world of America’s favorite plant during the annual Orchid Daze exhibition celebrating thousands of beautiful blossoms. Step inside the tropical warmth of the largest orchid center in the United States for a special exhibition of thousands of gorgeous orchids. Details

2017 Native Orchid Conference – June 4-8
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
The 2017 Native Orchid Conference will return to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada at the confluence of three major ecozones: prairie, boreal plain, and boreal shield creating a regional orchid hotspot. The area is home to more than 36 different species of native orchids and field trips will be led by the Native Orchid Conservation Inc. (NOCI) a Winnipeg-based nonprofit organization founded to foster an awareness of, and protect, unique ecosystems and their plant communities.
Registration will be limited to the first 100 people. All registration must be done by mail and a form is available online or by request. There will not be any registration at the door. The annual conference is the chance to socialize with old friends and make new ones with endless photography opportunities. Details

NAOCC & Orchid Podcast

Ninety percent of all plants on Earth rely on the fungi intertwined in their roots. The plants receive nutrients and water, as well as some other benefits, from these mycorrhizae – but some plants take advantage of the fungi and drain all their energy, giving nothing in return. Among the most beautiful, bountiful, and endangered such plants are the orchids. In this episode, Izzie talks with Dennis Whigham and Melissa McCormick, orchid scientists at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, about how the fungi help the orchids and why orchid conservation is also leading to a lot of new fungal science. podcast

In Defense of Plants

Many people are surprised to learn that North America is home to over 200 species of orchid. What’s more, an embarrassing amount of North America’s orchids are threatened with extinction. The plight of this intriguing plant family is an indication of how we are doing as a species. Orchids act as the proverbial canary in a coal mine. That is why Dr. Dennis Whigham, senior botanist for the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, established the North America Orchid Conservation Center. Join us for a discussion with Dr. Whigham in which we cover everything from the mutualisms that orchids need to survive to what it is going to take to ensure their survival on this continent. podcast

Job Announcements

Mount Cuba Center, Inc.Mt. Cuba Center is seeking a post-doctoral candidate to study terrestrial orchids in the state of Delaware on a 2-year fellowship. This orchid post-doc will lead the Native Orchids of Delaware project, conducting field work on orchid ecology and habitat associates. The job also entails collection of seed and root tissue, vital for future orchid propagation, and management of geographic and informational databases. Details

Ghost Hunters- video

IMG0273PolyradiconThe Orchid Recovery Program, based at Illinois College, has conducted orchid research and established conservation efforts in regions as diverse as Costa Rica, Cuba, and Madagascar. Here in the US, students under the direction of Professor Lawrence Zettler, have been tracking the elusive “ghost orchid” at the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge for nearly a decade. Students Justin Mably and Shannon Skarha discuss their efforts with Ernesto Mujica of Cuba’s Ministry of Science ECOVIDA Research Center, where a similar monitoring program has been implemented. video

No Room to Roam: Prairie Fringed Orchid

platanthera-leucophaea-in-cbendaThe Endangered Species Coalition has just released their annual top 10 list of endangered and rare species in the U.S. The report, No Room to Roam: 10 American Species in Need of Connectivity and Corridors, highlights ten rare or endangered species that lack safe, navigable corridors to connect them to important habitat or other populations. NAOCC’s partner at the Center for Plant Conservation successfully nominated the Eastern Prairie Fringed Orchid, Platanthera leucophaea. Threats to this orchid include drainage and ditching for crop production, commercial and residential development, grazing by cattle and deer, drought, and encroachment of woody vegetation in prairies due to fire suppression. Gary Krupnick, at the Smithsonian Institution’s Plant Conservation Unit, served on the scientific advisory panel. The full report, along with links to photos and species info, can be viewed and downloaded from the Coalition website.
photo by Christopher David Benda

Non-Native Orchids

Non-native OrchidsThis month say goodbye to summer and hello to some of our non-native orchids. Many of these orchids that have naturalized across North America, were originally cultivated in our gardens but somehow their dust-like seeds “slipped the chains of cultivation and made a successful run for freedom” -Jim Ackerman, University of Puerto Rico.
We hope this gallery will help you identify those non-native orchids that have naturalized, understand a little bit of their ecology and recognize their potential impact on our native vegetation.

Go Orchids – video guide and more orchids!!!

Go OrchidsWe have now profiled over 200 orchids on Go Orchids and added the new video that describes navigating the site and using the Simple Key. If you haven’t had a chance to check it out- take a look and let us know what you think.
If you would like a copy of the video, or other NAOCC material, for your organization or to present at an upcoming meeting- contact us and we can send you a CD.

Video- The Orchid Keepers

cyrtopodium-punctatum-smallThis short video by Richard Kern at Odyssey Earth describes the conservation efforts at Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park by our partners at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. The success of their conservation program is rooted in the expertise and dedication of their staff and volunteers, and a commitment to work directly with local landowners, botanical institutions and civic organizations to develop new methods of propagating rare plants and establishing them in restored habitats. To learn more about the orchid restoration efforts by the Atlanta Botanical Garden, visit our gallery archive.