The Native Orchid Conservation Program (NOCP) aims to preserve and protect all of Minnesota’s native orchid species. There are roughly 200 species of orchids native to the continental United States and Minnesota has 48 — nearly one quarter of all species. With ten out of those 48 species listed on Minnesota's List of Endangered, Threatened, and Special Concern Species, it is imperative to invest in the long-term preservation of orchids, which can be found in every ecosystem type in the state, including native forests, wetlands, and prairies.
Orchid biology is very complex, with species often only able to reproduce and thrive in the presence of certain pollinators, in specific soil types, and with specific soil fungi present. Due to these numerous constraints, orchids are notoriously hard to transplant or rescue and they are often the first species lost from a disturbed landscape. Our program seeks to research how best to grow and out-plant each species for restoration efforts. We are creating a long-term seed bank for native orchid species as well, but, more so than in our work with non-orchid endangered species, research in this program is focused on propagation. We hope by developing this propagation information for each species we will better enable organizations around the world interested in orchid conservation to work with these, and related species more effectively.