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Cypripedium restoration?

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cyp8472

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Hi, I have grown cyps for awhile now and have manage to grow them from seed pretty well and I thought I could try to restore some to the wild. There is a state park I have gone to every since I was born, some times twice because parents are divorced. I thought of ways to give back to the park which gave me so many memories and where I saw my first lady slipper (the biggest cyp. reginae I have seen with many steams but has since been dug up). I am not made of money and this past year I didn't see as many as I did in the past and thought this would be a good way to give back. I have talked to a few people at the park and said this might be a possibility but I just don't know if you can return cyps back to the wild. If any body has experience they could share, pointers, and advice it would be helpful!
-Thanks, Jeran
 
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cyp8472

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Sorry, forgot to mention that I will be growing them in flask and the seed source would be the park itself. I was told I would be working with the parks DNR rangers/Park Rangers or park specialist?, so I think I am safe.
 

TheLorax

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I have talked to a few people at the park and said this might be a possibility but I just don't know if you can return cyps back to the wild.
Yes, but not good to introduce them to a site where there is no documentation they were ever growing. The species is already at the site and you would be growing from seed provided to you by the land stewards which is absolutely ideal- local genotype which is exactly what that site needs.
I didn't see as many as I did in the past and thought this would be a good way to give back.
Time is considerably more valuable than money in my opinion. Flasking the seed and watching over it for the next few years before planting it back is worth more to that site than money so please don't sell yourself short by being concerned about not being made of money. Throwing money at a situation is no substitute for a loving hand. Can you clone yourself please ;)

My only comments would be to attempt to determine why there is a population decline. The obvious is that somebody has found the spot and is collecting based on the plant missing that used to grow by the stream. Removing so much as one robust mature plant from an already stressed plant community can have a tremendous impact on the entire population. That plant no longer exists to reproduce itself or to provide habitat to the wildlife that depended upon it. Good that you noticed one had been dug up. Be on the look out for any of those tiny metal surveying flags. This is what they look like but they come in other styles, pastels and neons, and in an assortment of sizes-
http://www.berntsen.com/GoShopping/Surveying/FlaggingTargets/MarkingFlags/tabid/1864/Default.aspx
Sometimes people who are too cheap to buy their own plants or are collecting for resale try to mark the spots that they want to come back to. Preference seems to be for green neon surveying flags or stakes with surveying tape stapled to the top for some reason. They have done this by me in remote areas by placing surveying flags near the plants they want to come back for. They find the area but aren't in position to walk around with a shovel lest they be questioned but the surveying flags are easy enough to hide under one's jacket or sweatshirt. X marks the spot and all I guess. When I find these types of markers that I have confirmed were not put in place legitimately, I relocate them. Let them come back with their night goggles and traipse around trying to find the plant they wanted to come back and dig up. I don't know that it helps but I'd like to think it does. This marking practice has declined with the price drops in gps units. Spade marks are always a good clue that someone has been there and once these people find a good source, they generally come back again and again. For this reason, when re-introducing plants to a site, we generally try our best to spread them out a little bit from where the greatest concentration exists and we also try to locate another area in close proximity to the original site that might be accommodating to the species. Premise being that they will always steal a few but they might not get them all. Next thougths would be for you to try to take photos of the vegetation growing at the site where the parent plants of your seed are growing. Invasive species take a toll on native plant communities. Many are allelopathic. You would want to try to identify any exotic plants that have taken root in the area where you would be planting your seedlings and get permission to eradicate them if possible- doubt you'd have any one stand in your way. The land steward for the park or the park specialist should be able to help you identify any and all introduced species growing at the site. If the park is spread too thin with personnel resources and if you are in a position to take good photos of other plants growing at that site, I would be more than happy to try to help you identify the invasives and would probably be in a position to suggest appropriate ways to get rid of them that you could run by your land steward. Sites become degraded over time frequently due to foot traffic and sometimes simply removing a few undesirable species can be enough of a boost to lend a much needed helping hand to the natives that struggle to compete for limited resources to survive and thrive.
 
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Eric Muehlbauer

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There was also an article in Orchids a few years ago about transplanting cloned C. reginae babies in New Hampshire. Eric
 
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cyp8472

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The seed source comes from the park so I don't have to worry about foreign genotypes. As for time is money, I am young so I got plenty of that. I am mainly doing this for the experience in growing the seed and returning them to the wild, plus thrill of helping the park is worth it alone to me. Also for a side bonus I get to talk about my efforts and other orchids at the park each spring for guests and park staff. As for population decline I can tell you now the problem is people dig them up but I hope I can make a difference in this with my conservation efforts and presentations.
 

TheLorax

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I hope I can make a difference in this with my conservation efforts and presentations.
You will make a difference.

I know of one site where a sign was erected requesting all those who enjoyed the woodland plants to please take a flyer from the pocket. The flyer was very simple and contained one paragraph on the ripple effect digging up one or two plants could have. The flyer also included one paragraph on why plants that were dug up generally had little or no chance of surviving in a home landscape. The last portion of the flyer comprised a list of local and online nurseries that sold woodland plants and provided all contact information. I am told parents who picked up and read the flyer were observed instructing their children not to pick any flowers and that there was a marked decrease in the number of plants that people were digging up. People who are digging them up to make a buck will never stop but I do believe that the vast majority of people who are digging them up to save a buck will stop if somebody like you is able to reach out to them whether it be directly or indirectly. Education is paramount.
 
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cyp8472

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That is a good idea on the flyers and will have to suggest that. Totally agree education is key.
 

TheLorax

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Thank you but it wasn't exactly my idea.

Years ago I was told a story of a woman who was growing hollyhocks or some other decorative plants that had height to them. She had problems with people cutting her flowers presumably to stick in vases in their homes. One year she put up a sign that said something similar to, "Please don't cut my flowers. When you cut my flowers you are stealing my seed and then I can't grow more flowers". The cutting of her flowers allegedly stopped.

I thought to myself, if it worked for that woman, why not expand upon her concept. I typed out two very simple paragraphs then added the contact information for a handful of local and online nurseries to make it easier for people to resist the temptation of taking plants home and closed with a request to please not pick or dig up any flowers as many volunteer worked many hours making them available for everyone to enjoy. I submitted my idea suggesting that a box similar to that used by real estate agents be used for the flyers attached below a sign that was to read, "If you like the woodland flowers please take a moment to read this flyer". We moved shortly after I submitted the idea. I didn't know it had been approved and was in use and was supposedly having an impact until recently when I spoke to a gal still volunteering over in that park. I've never seen the sign or the flyer!
 
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