Orchid Apocalypse

With today’s change of season, it seems appropriate to take an apocalyptic tone. While the latest end-of-the-world fad will pass with tomorrow’s sunrise, many plant and animal species are facing the real thing.  Climate change has begun, a danger not only to orchids, but to every species on the planet. Sadly, climate change is only the latest threat to orchids. Habitat destruction, over-collection of wild plants, pollution, and invasive species also continue their heavy tolls.

While some of the world’s 30,000 orchid species have healthy, stable populations in the wild, many others are rare, endangered, or already extinct. The world’s largest and most diverse flower family ranges from arctic orchids to a brilliant Masdevallia native to a single Bolivian valley, to a large, purple Lady Slipper, unknown to science til 2001. New discoveries still happen all the time, like this beautiful Coelogyne just discovered in Thailand, which is already endangered by habitat destruction along the Mekong Delta. The extinction of any species is a loss to that ecosystem, and a loss to future human generations. Some threatened ecosystems may collapse entirely, meaning the loss of hundreds of species at a time, as is feared for places like the cloud forests of the Colombian Andes.

Mayan Pyramid at Chichen Itza, MexicoThis Masdevallia species is native to a single valley in BoliviaLady Slipper species not discovered until 2001

The Mayans never predicted an apocalypse, but we are, indeed, experiencing a warming planet. The longer we wait to tackle this problem, the harder it will be. It’s easy to feel depressed, overwhelmed, and defeated, but there are many great groups fighting to save orchids and all the species which are the earth’s true treasure. I’ve highlighted many of these groups in Conservation posts, and there are many more around the world. Below is a short list of effective environmental organizations. They are worthy of your support, financially and otherwise. It’s not too late to help them stave off an orchid apocalypse.

Explore posts in the same categories: Conservation, In the News, Photos

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4 Comments on “Orchid Apocalypse”

  1. Troy Says:

    It’s so Very sad. I’m glad ur highlighting this issue. I have been absent for a while, but now I remember why I used to love this site. Thanks, I will try and check back more often. How frequently you update your web site?

  2. Marc Says:

    Here are some more news articles highlighting endangered orchids and other species –

    From South Africa, naming endangered species after famous people to help draw attention

    Mining and deforestation threatening a Dendrobium species in India

    New species discoveries announced by Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, many of which are already endangered

  3. AboutOrchids » Blog Archive » In Thoreau’s Flower Journal, Clues for Climatologists Says:

    […] Most orchids are pollinated by just a single species, so extinction is a danger. […]

  4. Hannah Harper Says:

    The fantastic concern that has never been answered, and which I have not but been capable to reply, “What can we do to stop climate change?”