Spot a white fringeless orchid? Be gentle — this threatened Georgia species is undergoing recovery
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services recently released a final recovery plan for the protection of the white fringeless orchid population in Georgia.
The perennial plant is a native flower to the southeastern United States that grows in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee.
In Georgia, white fringeless orchids can be found in wetland or swamp areas, including the Piedmont and Blue Ridge regions.
The orchid was first listed as a threatened species in 2016 after a species status assessment concluded its condition.
“It's not immediately in danger of becoming extinct, but there is a risk of it becoming endangered in the near future,” said Kerri Dikun, a Fish and Wildlife biologist who works in classification and recovery.
The main threats the orchid faces are habitat loss and degradation. But, Dikun explains, local partners and organizations have taken efforts to address those threats even before the plant was classified as threatened.
“Some of the main things have mostly been habitat management, so managing vegetation around the orchids,” Dikun said. “If they get too shaded or too overcrowded by other plants, that can not be good for them. Managers have gone in to try to thin out some of that vegetation to increase the light for the orchids so that we can increase growth and flowering.”
The recovery plan is a roadmap made to guide a specific species, like the white fringeless orchid, off the endangered species list.
According to a FWS press release, “It also lists site-specific actions that will be necessary to meet those criteria and estimates the time and costs required for implementing actions necessary to achieve recovery.”