New orchid and milkweed populations discovered in Wisconsin

Wisconsin State Farmer
The calypso orchid is considered threatened in the state of Wisconsin, but new populations have been discovered.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources announced that volunteers for the Rare Plant Monitoring Program have discovered new populations of some of the state's rarest plants.

The discoveries included the calypso orchid, eastern prairie white fringed orchid and purple milkweed. The calypso orchid is considered threatened while the purple milkweed is considered endangered. More than 14% of Wisconsin's total plant populations are considered rare, which means they are threatened or endangered. Fewer than five calypso orchid populations exist in Wisconsin.

“Our volunteers provide a huge amount of data that allows us to keep tabs on more rare plant populations than we would otherwise be able to,” said DNR Rare Plant Monitoring Program coordinator Kevin Doyle. “Without their information we wouldn’t have as good an idea of what sites are becoming degraded or what populations are languishing, and where we need to take management action to help protect those plants.”

The state dispatched 59 volunteers last year, who reported 265 rare plant findings. Fifty-eight of those findings were in areas of Wisconsin where the plant had not been reported before. The program is the largest source of rare plant data in the state.