RARE EXTINCT ORCHID REAPPEARS IN VERMONT AFATER 120 YEARS, DISCOVERED BY AMATEUR NATURALIST
There is some interesting news coming out of Vermont. It has nothing to do with maple syrup or cheese or even the best winter slopes. Instead, it is about an orchid. A rare orchid, actually. So rare that it has been extinct in the state of Vermont for 120 years. Or, at least, that’s how long it’s been since anyone has seen a small whorled pogonia. Till now, of course. The federally threatened orchid has been missing in the Green Mountain State. And even better? The rediscovery was made by an amateur naturalist.
RARE ORCHID CAN ONLY GROW WITH NATURAL FUNGI, MAKING IT HARD TO FIND AND STUDY
Orchid fans are ecstatic, which likely includes my mother. Or she will be, once she reads this update about the state of orchids in Vermont. The last time anyone had documented evidence of the small whorled pogonia in Vermont was in 1902. And yes, naturalists have been searching for one hopefully ever since. So why is this such big news? Well, because this is one of the rarest species of orchid east of the Mississippi River. The orchid depends on natural fungi to grow. Scientists know that much, but not much else.
OVER A CENTURY LATER, RARE ORCHID SMALL WHORLED POGONIA BEATS THE ODDS IN VERMONT
And, to be fair, it’s hard to understand the orchid’s dependence on natural fungi because we can’t see underground, or map out root systems. And we’re talking about quite the range for this rare orchid. Now, we can again find far north in Vermont and Southern Maine, south in Georgia and west to Michigan and southern Ontario. Naturalists say that these very rare orchids are under threat from habitat loss, climate change, and humans either stepping on them or “collecting” them.