A Million May Orchids

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Florida Butterfly Orchid (Encyclia tampensis) Photo: Florida Native Orchids

Florida Butterfly Orchid (Encyclia tampensis)
Photo: Florida Native Orchids

A million orchids, each from a critically endangered species, each one to be planted by hand over five years.

The Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden in South Florida launched a project to revive the orchids that have been pushed to the brink of extinction by urbanization and wild gathering, and the first orchids were planted over the past week. A similar project run by the Singapore Botanical Gardens, started in the 1990s, has started to show signs of success.

Orchid seedlings can take up to two years of intensive cultivation before they are ready to be planted in the wild.

Cowhorn Orchid (Cyrtopodium punctatum) Photo: Florida Native Orchids

Cowhorn Orchid (Cyrtopodium punctatum)
Photo: Florida Native Orchids

The hope, according to Carl Lewis, director of the botanical garden project, is that the planting will help the native species achieve critical mass so that they can reproduce again on their own. This, in turn, could lead to the re-establishment of insect and micro-organism populations that have been disappearing along with the orchids themselves.

It’s May Day and  International Workers’ Day: A toast to this fine labor of floral revival.

Clamshell Orchid (Prosthechea cochleata) Photo: Florida Native Orchids

Clamshell Orchid (Prosthechea cochleata)
Photo: Florida Native Orchids

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