My last wild orchid

geoforce(z7a SE PA)


Orchis spectabile, a lovely plant but also a sad tale of changing woodland diversity.

On my 6 wooded acres in SE Pa, this is the single remaining wild orchid plant. Twenty years ago, I walked around one Spring and discovered plants of Orchis, Aplectrum, Spiranthes, Tipularia, Liparis, and 2 species of Goodyera. All of these have been destroyed by the deer. Sadly this single plant is all that ramains. It's survival may or may not be due to my spraying deer repellant around it as soon as it appears in Spring.


Still, I enjoy it every year.

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Comments (13)
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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

Just beautiful. Can you shoot the deer and make sausage?... Or cage the orchids. I struggle with these critters too. They make me pull my hair out. I have hundreds of Yucca rupicola on my property and every year at this time, they send out long inflourescens buds and the deer tease me mercilessly, eating them all , one by one. I am getting closer and closer to the final solution.

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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

I also do defensive piling of brush around treasured seedlings. I know, it just isn't very pretty, but it works.

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Jay 6a Chicago(5b/6a)

I'm thinking if I had such beautiful native orchids growing on my land I'd probably put a fence around them before I'd let the deer destroy them.The photo is breathtaking!

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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

I have a problem with deer eating my pretties and someone recommended Milorganite , a fertilizer that deer can't stand the smell of. I have not tried it yet but it is on my list of things to pick up. It is available at Lowe's in my area.

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nick_b79(4/5 Southeast MN)

I've heard it said that we have more deer today east of the Mississippi than there were when the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. Almost no wild predators left to tackle mature ones (coyotes mostly take the young) and fewer human hunters hitting the woods annually :-(

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Jay 6a Chicago(5b/6a)

I don't think the first colonists took any measurements of wild animal populations.It may seem like there's more deer now because they are all concentrated in the remaining 2 percent of their former range.It's interesting how we become jaded to the fact that people are swarming on highways and everywhere else but we just see that as normal.If we saw any other species in numbers as large as human numbers we would feel we were being taken over.

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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

There was a fair sized Indian population before small pox, and measles decimated them, and they were hunters . I am not sure if they had herds of cows, pigs and chickens. I bet the deer were being culled routinely much more than now. Where I am in Texas , they are in the close in suburbs and out. Oner is not allowed to shoot them there for a good reason and people feed them and they flourish.They are definitely in more than 2% of their range. On my land Humans are in 2% of the land. LOL

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Jay 6a Chicago(5b/6a)

The Indians hunted buffalo too and herds of them the size of African wildebeest herds used to roam the country,until they were massacred in the millions to send the native Americans a message that they were not welcome on white European claimed land.If there was a lot more wild untouched land around there wouldn't be so much overgrazing and probably a lot less deer munching on people's hostas and wild orchids.

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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

I don't think the buffalo were on the east coast.

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Jay 6a Chicago(5b/6a)

At one time an estimated 30 to 60 million bison roamed all the way to the Hudson bay,but they seem to not have inhabited the east coast area.The deer problem is caused by a combination of less wild land,no natural predator species and noxious invasive plants like garlic mustard that are wiping out their native forage plants.Maybe if we planted enough healthy forage plants they enjoyed eating they wouldn't browse as much on our favorite plants.Oh I just found another reason to eradicate garlic mustard.It's been discovered that it kills all the mycorrhizal fungus in the soil which plants need to produce nutrients.That means it can not only kill your plants but also your shrubs and trees.It also makes a chemical that decomposes the leaf litter it's under so it can get a head start over the native plants.

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geoforce(z7a SE PA)

As for decomposing leaf litter, we don't have much of that anymore.

A decade or so back we were invaded by a species of earthworm imported from canada as fishbait ( or so tis said). In our more hospitable climate apparently, it has increased to such an extent that it eats all the leaf litter very raoidly. Anywhere I look in wooded areas, there is a very thin layer of recebtly fallen leaves and beneath it the soil is a loose friable mass for several inches depth. The usual leaf litter is dispersed in this mass and rapidly decomposes and leaches away. Soil fertility in these areas is much decreased and dramatically changed from former state.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invasive_earthworms_of_North_America

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ZachS. z5 Platteville, Colorado

The whitetail deer has in fact expended its historic range. Once a primarily eastern creature it now roamsall the way to the western edge of the great plains and as far north as Alaska. Believe it or not, by the 1930's the white tail was nearly extinct. But it is a conservation story that is arguably "too good." To be quite honest, I'd wager that deer would be browsing in the safe, succulent gardens of suburbia regardless of whether or not they had plenty of wilderness. Just like bears, the temptation of an easy meal and lack of danger is too much to resist.

In an interesting aside, Mule deer populations are falling here in the west and no one is quite sure why....

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wisconsitom(Zone 4/5)

Right^. Here in Wisconsin, the deer population exploded following the initial felling of this state's once vast forests. This is not conjecture, it is well-known fact.

Funny but sad fact: since the complete takeover of our state government by the Reactionary Party....oops, I meant to write Republican Party....the brilliant decision was made to let the serious and fatal deer disease known as chronic wasting disease run its course and see if perhaps, by burying our collective heads in the sand, the problem would go away. Now our dear governor Walker-a great friend to rednecks and hunters everywhere-just ask him-has suddenly come to the realization that allowing for the decimation of the herd may not curry favor with these hunting groups. It remains to be seen whether or not any meaningful steps will be taken, especially now that most of the scientific staff of the DNR have lost their jobs. Great job, gov!

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