The Many Definitions of Orchid Conservation
As with many terms, the words “orchid conservation” can be variously interpreted. To some, orchid conservation means saving the rainforest, donating funds to support habitat purchase in a distant land, rescuing plants from fallen trees, or performing volunteer service in a park or conservation area. To others, conservation equates with propagation of species to relieve collection pressure on vulnerable orchid populations. To still others, conservation encompasses the trade in orchids and the various documents needed to facilitate that trade. Orchid conservation can also begin at home in our collections, in learning how to take care of orchids. Conservation means caring about orchids in cultivation and in the wild, however and whenever the opportunity arises.
Our Native Orchids and their Legal Protection
We sometimes witness people picking wild orchids or even digging them for garden purposes. We may see native orchids offered for sale and wonder if this is allowed. Sometimes native orchids are at risk locally because land is being cleared for roads, trails or development and we may wonder just what protection do our native orchids have? What if any measures can be taken to ensure their conservation?
Where we stand: (Download Pdf)
Watch Your Step
What are the consequences when you step off a trail to look at a flower or take its picture? This article by Marilyn Light and Michael MacConaill is a study that measured the effect of human disturbance on a forest habitat during the flowering period of May-blooming large yellow lady’s-slippers (Cypripedium parviflorum var. pubescens).
Conserving Our Collections: Planning for a Future
If a crisis occurs, who will take care of your orchids? Have an action plan (Download Pdf).
ONLY ONE – A Tragedy in Three Acts
What are the consequences of collecting one orchid plant? (Download Pdf)
The pollinator conservation resource center of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation is a good place to access information. Simply peruse the map and click on your region to learn more about local initiatives and resources. Those of us involved in natural area projects might consider some of these approaches where orchid habitat management is concerned.
There are many useful publications at this site such as one suggesting food plants (including garden plants) for foraging pollinators such as: “Pollinators in natural _areas – A Primer on Habitat Management”.
Most adult insect pollinators of our native orchids (including lady’s slippers) need flowers other than orchids as nectar/pollen food sources. Larval food plants are also needed in some cases. In the spirit of an integrated approach to orchid conservation, please consider pollinator conservation.