Friday, March 2, 2012

Beautiful Blooms

An orchid at the Sonnenberg Orchid Show
Our friends at Sonnenberg are holding their annual orchid show this weekend. It starts today and goes through sunday. (Please see their website for times and details.) I visited their orchid show today - as I do every year. It's a treat for the eyes and soul to see the colorful and gay blooms when grey skies and the sleeping brown Earth is all we generally see at this time of the year.

While the orchids at the show mostly hail from various tropical locations, the orchid family is a very wide-ranging group and can be found on every continent save Antarctica. What may be surprising to most people reading this, is that orchids comprise the second largest plant family after asters with over 20,000 different species.

Did you also know there are wild orchids growing right here in NY State? Around 60 species of orchid are native to New York, though a third of them are rare to see since they are considered endangered or threatened. Unfortunately the orchids here are like many plants - they struggle to survive in their native ranges. Recently I ran across the following piece of information:

"At least one of every eight plant species in the world - and nearly one of three in the United States - is under threat of extinction, according to the first comprehensive worldwide assessment of plant endangerment." --- ”Plant Survey Reveals Many Species Threatened With Extinction,” NY Times, April 19, 1998

The native grass pink orchid (Zurich Bog)
One person who I shared the information with told me it was depressing. Depressing to be sure. But the truth none-the-less and not a truth we can hide from. We all have a hand in either being part of the problem or part of the solution. Please do whatever you can to preserve our natural, green spaces. Loss of habitat is one of the biggest causes of these extinctions. I know you, like myself, want the next seven generations to see not only orchids but all other plants and animals living and thriving rather than only being a picture in a dusty book!

I urge you to visit Sonnenberg this weekend. Celebrate the beauty and diversity of one of Mother Earth's gifts, the orchid. I hope the blooms lift your grey winter spirits as much as it did mine!!


More information on NY State Orchids:
"Orchids of New York" By Chuck Sheviak and Steve Young

"Native New York Orchids" (YouTube)

New York Flora Atlas - Orchids

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