Part of the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum’s (MLA) mission is to provide a community and national resource for horticultural and environmental information, research and public education. This includes protecting species, like the Western Prairie Fringed Orchid (Platanthera praeclara), in the CPC National Collection.
The fate of the Western Prairie Fringed Orchid is tied to that of the tallgrass prairie. This elegant wildflower, with its clusters of showy white flowers, was once found in grassy swales and meadows from Manitoba south into Oklahoma. Now, with the tallgrass prairie reduced to less than two-percent of its formerly vast range, this beautiful and unique grassland orchid is threatened with extinction.
Fortunately, The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has a recovery plan for the species statewide (Anderson and Sather, 2014) as part of this recovery work they also maintain a comprehensive bibliography for research on the species.
MLA earned a Minnesota state grant in 2015 funding a program to bank seed from all of Minnesota’s native orchid species, including P. praeclara. This encompasses research to increase longevity of banked seed, standardize propagation from seed and develop ex situ garden collections. Currently seed from one population is banked at MLA with another population banked at Chicago Botanic Garden. CPC greatly appreciates the Arboretum’s work to preserve this plant.
The conservation experts at CPC participating institutions such as the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum share their in-depth conservation expertise about rare plants through CPC’s National Collection Plant Profiles.
Western Prairie Fringed Orchid photo credit: J. Locklear
photo credit: Pamela Foard