Vermont Says Endangered Orchid Hasn’t Been Seen Since 1902

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MONTPELIER, Vermont (AP) — A federally endangered species of orchid that has not been confirmed in Vermont since 1902 has been discovered, the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife said.

Department botanists have confirmed that a population of Lesser Whorled Pogonia has been documented on conservation lands in the Winooski Valley Park District in Chittenden County. To protect them, authorities won’t say exactly where the orchids were found.

“Finding a viable population of a federally endangered species not known to our state for more than a century is astounding,” said Bob Popp, botanist with the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department.


Lesser Whorled Pogonia is a globally rare orchid historically found in the eastern states and Ontario. Populations in Maine and New Hampshire are found in partially sunny areas, including forest edges and glades.

Previous searches for the species in Vermont have been unsuccessful.

Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department assistant botanist Aaron Marcus said the department first learned of a possible small population of wild pogonia in Vermont through observations last summer by two community scientists: John Gange from Shelburne and Tom Doubleday from Colchester.

Popp, Marcus, Doubleday and Gange returned to the site together this spring and confirmed the presence of small whorled pogonia, which were in bloom at the time.

The department’s next steps will be to work with the Winooski Valley Park District to search for Lesser Whorled Pogonia on nearby conservation lands and monitor the population to ensure this species has the best possible opportunity to thrive. thrive in the Vermont portion of its native range.

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