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Threatened orchid species last seen in 1902 found

Threatened orchid species last seen in 1902 found

A threatened species of orchid has been spotted in Vermont for the first time since 1902. The species has been declared federally threatened for years and has been missing from some of its native ranges for years. Officials at the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife confirmed that a small population of the small whorled pogonia had been documented on Winooski Valley Park District conservation land in Chittenden County.

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However, the officials have withheld the exact location where the flower has been found in a bid to protect it from potentially interested parties. They fear that making the location public could jeopardize the plant.

Related: Ghost orchid among new plant species discovered in 2021

Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department Botanist Bob Popp was excited to find the flower. “Discovering a viable population of a federally threatened species unknown in our state for over a century is astounding,” Popp said.

The small whorled pogonia is native to the eastern Untied States and Ontario. In the states of Maine and New Hampshire, the plant is found in regions of partial sunshine such as the edges of forests. However, the plant has become rare in most parts of the world. It has also been extinct in the native range of Vermont until the recent discovery.

In previous attempts to find the species, Vermont officials have been unsuccessful. The recent find was made possible by a team of local community scientists. The two scientists, John Gange of Shelburne and Tom Doubleday of Colchester, notified the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department of the possibility of having the plant in the region.

Following the tip, Assistant Botanist Aaron Marcus alongside other agency officials and the two scientists visited the site. They confirmed the presence of the whorled pogonia. The plant was in bloom at the time of its documentation.

The department will now be working with the Winooski Valley Park District to look for another small whorled pogonia on the nearby conservation land. They will also embark on protection and monitoring of the found plants to ensure that they do not get lost.

Via AP News

Lead image via Pexels

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