Chapters of the story of Bluestem Farm

Platanthera psycodesOrchids found native on the farm and description of land. (this webpage)

Platanthera clevellata in flaskVisiting Bluestem's Lab

Cyp. parviflorumVisiting Bluestem's Nursery

Cyp reginaeCypripedium reginae out planting
First conservation project

Platanthera leucophaea Rock CountyPlatanhera leucophaea,  the white fringed prairie orchid, conservation

P. ophioglossoidesPhoto gallery of orchids found in South Central Wisconsin 

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Cyp reginae seedling
Cypripedium reginae seedling

Cyp reginae seedling marquette
Cypripedium reginae seedling

Consevation Corps planting
Wisconsin Conservation Corps

Cyp reginae
Cypripedium reginae seedling

Cyp reginae roots
Cypripedium reginae roots

Orchid Habitat Restoration and Preservation 

Bluestem Farm   photos and text by Scott Weber unless
otherwise noted. Use of photos outside of this website must be by  permission.

Cyp reginae
Cypripedium reginae at Bluestem Farm

When living in Maine in the mid 1980s, I tried sowing Cyp. acaule without success. After moving back to Wisconsin, I received a permit to collect Cyp. reginae seed from a fen owned by The Nature Conservancy.  In 1992 I collected seed from a Nature Conservancy property with the intention of founding my breeding stock and donating seedlings to the Conservancy for planting near the original seed source.  This was a test to see whether laboratory propagated plants grow best in their native soil or in a greenhouse; the assumption being that the fungi in their native habitat are necessary for growth.  The result of that study was that they grow faster in the greenhouse.  With the help of the Wisconsin Conservation Corps, we planted two dozen Cyp. reginae seedlings in the fen to increase their population. They will be monitored for several years to measure their growth.  So far they have transplanted well as long as the soil has the right pH and moisture content. The amount of competition the seedlings have when young is a big factor in how fast they grow, as well as protection from herbivores.

The seed germinated well on the modified Knudson's medium described by William Ballard. When the protocorms were large enough to transfer, I compared their growth on three different media: Ballard's, Harvais's, and Svante Malmgren's. Growth on Malmgren's medium was so strong that I now use it for all cypripediums. It has a low salt concentration and no inorganic nitrogen. All nitrogen comes from amino acids. Perhaps this form of nitrogen is closest to that supplied by fungi. On this medium the roots remain a healthy white color throughout the first year.

Conservation corps planting
Wisconsin Conservation Corps setting out a chicken wire enclosure to protect Cypripedium reginae seedlings