Restoring the Small-Whorled Pogonia

The Plant Ecology Lab has received funding from the National Park Service to continue our research on the small-whorled pogonia (Isotria medeoloides). This species is listed as federally threatened and is considered the rarest orchid east of the Mississippi.

The goal of the three-year project is to increase our understanding of critical aspects of this species' biology and ecology with the eventual goal of developing procedures to assure the persistence of the species as well as re-introduction into sites where it was previously known to grow. 

Our sites include two National Parks where small populations persist and a third site on the Blue Ridge Parkway where the population is now extinct. Our project will also include cooperative studies with the conservation staff at Fort A.P. Hill, where several populations persist.

The planned research will include monitoring of existing populations, field and laboratory studies of seeds, identification and culturing of mycorrhizal fungi that interact with this orchid, and molecular studies of genetic diversity within existing populations.
(Photo Credit: R. Mark Rose)

Ecosystems on the Edge: An Endangered Orchid