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Endangered Native Orchid Species Return To Miami Beach Through Million Orchid Project

Orchid Obsession

Miami Beach will soon be blooming with thousands of orchids in the next three years.  

The Million Orchid Project

In cooperation with Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden’s Million Orchid Project, the city officials spearheaded an inspiring initiative to plant 20,000 endangered native orchids species on the island, which include the butterfly orchid (Encyclia tampensis), pine pink (Bletia purpurea) and the Florida dancing lady (Tolumnia bahamensis), and the cowhorn orchid.

“This project is bringing back some of our lost native orchids to the urban landscape. It’s a different twist on traditional conservation,” Jason Downing, an orchid biologist, told the Miami Herald.

Loss Of Natural Habitats

According to sources, South Florida used to be a teeming with wild orchid plants, usually epiphytes, growing on oak and mahogany trees around the area. Unfortunately, because of urbanization, which involved cutting trees to massive scale, the orchids lost their natural habitat and start dwindling in numbers.

Determined to turn the city’s urban landscape into a sanctuary for the orchids, officials said their residents, students, and many volunteers will help maintain and monitor the newly planted orchids. There’s even a mobile app developed by Florida International University, which will be launched in summer, to help them do that.

What Is Orchid Poaching?

Orchid poaching is when you remove an endangered orchid species from its natural environment to sell or to keep for yourself as part of a personal collection.  

Illegal orchid poaching, which is a dilemma seen worldwide, especially in tropical countries rich with never-before-seen orchid species, also contributed to the zero-orchid situation in Miami.

Today, the Great Lakes watershed is being stripped of its precious plants. Some of which include wild orchids, golden seal, and American ginseng.

“What happened to plants like orchids is similar to what happened to the blue macaw– when it entered the illegal pet trade, the bird soon became endangered because of its high value. When you take a rare plant, you increase the value of it because it becomes rarer, but it doesn’t do the world any good,” Frank Telewski, curator of the W.J. Beal Botanical Gardens in East Lansing, Michigan, explains.



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