Skip to comments.Scientist Rediscovers Lost Orange-Yellow Crested Fringed Orchid 19 Years After Disappearing
Posted on 08/31/2020 12:33:33 PM PDT by Red Badger
The orange-yellow crested fringed orchid, platanthera cristata (Dr. Thomas G. Barnes/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
An orange-yellow orchid that has eluded botanists for almost two decades has been rediscovered in the state of Massachusetts. The rare, endangered plant has been the subject of speculation since falling off the radar in 2001, and botanists remain so concerned for its preservation that the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife has made an impactful decision.
They decided not to reveal the exact location of the orchids 2020 reappearance.
It was rare-plant expert Dr. Robert Wernerehl of MassWildlifes Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program who came across eight crested fringed orchidPlatanthera cristataplants growing wild in August. Wernerehl claimed that the rediscovery of this striking plant took his breath away.
While the botanist was happy to publicize that the diminutive orchid with striking orange blooms was found growing on partially protected public land in Bristol County, specific location details remain closely guarded.
Given the condition of the site, and the knowledge that many botanists have searched fruitlessly for this rarity for years, I was not at all expecting to find it, Wernerehl told WWLP. But while forcing my way through dense shrubby thickets laden with poison ivy, I kept reminding myself to move slowly and keep looking.
Glancing down, he continued, describing his discovery, a bright orange spot in the tangle of branches caught my eye, and as I bent over the plant, I knew immediately I had found it.
Wernerehl claimed he experienced momentary disbelief before confirming that the orange-yellow orchid in front of him truly was the elusive flora of almost 20 years.
The botanist further described the location of the orchids reappearance as a shrubby wetland thicket of sweet pepperbush, swamp azalea, and poison ivy but did not divulge place names or coordinates for the sake of the immediate preservation of this reemerging species.
Prior to its last appearance in 2001, the orange-yellow blossoming orchid had only been documented in the state in 1905, 1908, and 1987, reports MassWildlife. State botanists had conducted repeated survey efforts over the years, but to no avail.
The eight plants newly identified in Bristol County represent the northernmost known population of the crested fringed orchid in the United States and the only known appearance of the flowering plant in New England. Its closest known neighbors are growing wild on Long Island, New York.
The crested fringed orchid typically begins blooming in August, according to a Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife fact sheet, preferring the damp, acidic soil of bogs, wet meadows, and swamps. The striking orange-yellow blooms can reach between 1 and 5 inches in length, and slim, nectar-filled spurs attract bumblebeesthe orchids primary pollinator.
The crested fringed orchids that have emerged in Bristol County remain at risk of environmental turbulence, invasive species, fires, and predation by the local deer population. The species is still registered Endangered by the state.
However, Wernerehl, discussing his discovery with MassWildlife, noted that the timing of the rare speciess reappearance was truly notable, as 2020 marks the 30th anniversary of the Massachusettss Endangered Species Act.
Hope he reappeared before he made the discovery!
>>Hope he reappeared before he made the discovery!<<
He phoned it in.
Commercialize it and it will be all over the place in Walmart stores by Valentine’s day..............
Lost? where was it? Living with wild dogs in a Massachusetts jungle?
“Wild Orchid, once though extinct, seen emerging from jungle on all fours, growling and snarling, looking for food”
He’ll reappear shortly after the reappearance of a competent newspaper editor.
So it turns out that if scientists don’t see a thing for a while it’s not necessarily extinct? Who knew?
It has relatives on Long Island............
Can’t they put a security guard there?
LOL- Yep- Probably snuck away by stealing a pahked Cah, down by the habah
I thought orchids by nature were tropical and sub-tropical critters?
Orange-crested Plant Bad!
It almost looks like something that would be growing underwater. Or like an orange Hyacinth. I’ve only seen Hynciths that are white, pink, blue or purple. Never orange.
Maybe it should be named after a very controversial, though well loved president.
Those are endangered orchids!? I thought they were weeds...sorry.
I thought I saw one of those on the roof of a Brownstone in Manhattan. Someone had just been murdered downstairs, so I left as soon as I could.
They shouldn't have said anything until they were sure it was firmly established or as another poster said, make it commercially available.
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