Prairie White-fringed Orchid–A Prairie Postcard


Prairie White-fringed orchid (Platanthera leucophaea) a Federally Threatened species growing in a restored prairie near Madison.

Prairie White-fringed orchid (Platanthera leucophaea) a Federally Threatened species growing in a restored prairie near Madison.  Here the plant is protected from deer browse by a wire cage.

Our midwestern United States prairies are at their summer peak of bloom and color now.  And one of the stars of the show the past few weeks has been the prairie white-fringed orchid.  This exquisitely beautiful orchid grows in moist to wet meadows and prairies and prefers deep, undisturbed soil.

A restorationists retrieving the flower's pollen sac which will then be placed in a flower of a second plant to ensure cross-pollination.

A restorationist is retrieving the flower’s pollen sac and will then act as a pollinator by placing it in a flower of a second plant to make sure of cross-pollination.

The prairie white-fringed orchid is globally rare, endangered in Wisconsin, and Federally threatened.  Although pollination is usually by a species of hawk moth, humans (with a permit) can supplement the process by hand pollinating flowers.  The species blooms in Wisconsin from early June through early August.

Hand pollinating an orchid flower.

Hand pollinating an orchid flower.

Prairie white-fringed orchid growing in a prairie restoration west of Madison.

Prairie white-fringed orchid growing in a prairie restoration west of Madison.

To learn more about the prairie white-fringed orchid chick here to view information from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

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About Steve Glass

The blogger is a restoration ecologist practicing and writing in the Midwestern United States.
This entry was posted in Prairie restoration, Restoration ecology and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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