Bluestem Farm photos and text by Scott Weber unless
otherwise noted. Use of
photos outside of this website must be by permission.
seed is of special interest to me because of the decline of our
beautiful endangered prairie orchid, Platanthera leucophaea.
work part time for our Bureau of Endangered Resources (Wisconsin DNR),
and survey for prairie white fringed orchids (state endangered and
federally threatened). In 2006 I collected seed to
germinate in vitro and scatter in our prairie restoration on our
farm. The laboratory photos were taken last month as I tried
catch up on sowing seed collected in 2007. Included are some
photos of the young seedlings in the flask. We believe that
monitoring populations alone is not enough to protect the species since
some populations are under threat by lack of management and, in some
unfortunate cases, herbicide drift from adjacent farmland. We
need to spread seed into suitable habitats to reduce the
The highest population of P.
leucophaea in Wisconsin (hundreds of
plants) occurs at a site that was formerly in row crops, and the seed
either is either much longer lived than we suspect or seed drifted in
from a nearby population when the fields were enrolled in the
Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). Fortunately those sites
managed privately by owners who love the orchids, and they have
received permanent protection as State Natural Areas.
photo of Platanthera
photos by Martha Barrett
Click on pictures for
lid Seeds in test
Decanting seed sowing
from test tube to
jar with media
jar with media
Platanthera leucophaea survey