Is This Endangered Orchid the Last of Its Kind?

Like many orchids, the Long Spurred Angraecum faces an uncertain future. Angraecum longicalcar is one of Madagascar’s beautiful, fascinating, and highly endangered orchids. Climate change, habitat destruction, and poaching of wild plants are terrible threats. In addition, its pollinator may be extinct. While many plants use lots of different pollinators, orchids often specialize for a single bug or bird species. If that species disappears, the orchid cannot effectively reproduce. Like its close relative Darwin’s Orchid, Angraecum longicalcar has long nectar spurs to attract a moth with a very long tongue. Its night-fragrant green and white flowers resemble strange sea creatures with lengthy tails.

Fortunately, the Long Spurred Angraecum is in cultivation, where it may be pollinated by helpful humans, like those at the Smithsonian Gardens Orchid Collection. It also can grow keikis, or baby plants, to reproduce. Even with these safeguards, it would be a horrible tragedy for this orchid to go extinct in the wild.

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