The First Coast is home to an orchid so rare it has been declared endangered in Florida.
The bright-orange Platanthera chapmanii, more commonly known as Chapman’s Fringed Orchid, has become limited to a few, sparse populations in North Florida, Southeast Georgia and one small population in Eastern Texas, according to a news release from the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens.
Jacksonville Zoo Horticulturist Houston Snead and Environmental Specialist Lisa Hassell from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) lobbied for the declaration of endangered in the Florida Regulated Plant Index.
“Whereas the flower had no legal protection before, its new endangered status provides protection against poaching, and will help the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens conserve this species across its range,” said Snead.
The designation was granted on October 27.
“This species is hanging on by a thread,” said Hassell.
The orchid species was once found in sunny wet savannas, wet pine flatwoods, and hillside seeps, according to Snead.
The Chapman’s Fringed Orchid is also considered globally imperiled by the North American Orchid Conservation Center.
Under a FDACS approved permit, some seed is being collected for seed banking and propagation, which are among the methods used to protect species long term. The zoo is also taking an active role in maintaining a habitat for Chapman’s Fringed Orchid.