Orchid Hunting

On July 9th Team Echinacea temporarily became Team Platanthera. That is to say, we journeyed c. 170 miles northwest of our usual study area, around Kensington, to the Nature Conservancy’s Pembina Trail Preserve near Fertile, MN. Here we searched for Platanthera praeclara, the elusive Western Prairie Fringed Orchid. The WPF orchid is a midwestern prairie wildflower that has been listed as federally threatened since 1989. For more information about the WPF, where it persists, and why it is threatened, check out this link .

Gretel has been surveying the population at Pembria for the past several years to track changes over time and to better understand the effect of management techniques such as burning and mowing. Though prone to wide population fluctuations, this year we found an exceptionally low number of orchids – 151 between the two plots (108 and 43).

As usual, the day did not close without Team Echinacea/Platanthera hijinks. While wading in a drainage ditch, Jameson picked up a leech between his toes which Ian subsequently, and stalwartly, removed. We also stopped for pizza on the way home. Not to toot my own horn, but my recommendation (jalapeño and pineapple), though widely scoffed at initially, went over quite well with those who partook.

Finally, I leave you with these few pearls:
When the emotions are strong one should paint bamboo; in a light mood one should paint the orchid. – Chueh Yin

Inspired teachers … cannot be ordered by the gross from the factory. They must be discovered one by one, and brought home from the woods and swamps like orchids. They must be placed in a conservatory, not in a carpenter shop; and they must be honored and trusted. – John Jay Chapman

“When two friends understand each other totally, the words are soft and strong like an orchid’s perfume��? – anon

“A human being isn’t an orchid, he must draw something from the soil he grows in��? – Sara Jeannette Duncan


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