Endangered Small Whorled Pogonia Rediscovered in New York After Decades of Search

Small whorled pogonia (Isotria medeoloides), a federally threatened orchid, was discovered in Orange County, New York in late May by Kimberly Smith, a botanist for DEC’s New York Natural Heritage Program and the Office of State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Kim spotted the orchid in a state park where she was performing botanical surveys for other rare plants. No one has seen this small orchid in New York since 1976 when botanist Mildred Faust photographed two flowers in a swamp in Onondaga County. Beaver have flooded that area since then and invasive plants have come in so the orchids are no longer there. The orchid is present in 17 other states in the Eastern United States and in Ontario but it is endangered or threatened in each one.

Botanists have spent decades looking for small whorled pogonia throughout New York where it had been collected only five times before 1976, from 1887 to 1923. Botanists collected it once in five different counties: Washington, Ulster, Rockland, Nassau and Suffolk. Orange County is now added to the list of counties where it grows. Botanists for the New York Natural Heritage Program have rediscovered other rare plants that no one has seen in many decades, sometimes for over 100 years, but this discovery is especially important because it involves a globally rare and federally threatened orchid. Congratulations Kim! – Steve Young

Small Whorled Pogonia, Orange County - Photo Kim Smith

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Explore posts in the same categories: Plant Sightings, Rare Plant Surveys, Rare Plants

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