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2017 Illinois eastern prairie fringed orchid field season summary
Midwest Region, October 31, 2017
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Two budding infloresences of the eastern prairie fringed orchid can be seen peeking through the vegetation.
Two budding infloresences of the eastern prairie fringed orchid can be seen peeking through the vegetation. - Photo Credit: Scott Kobal (Forest Preserve District of DuPage County)
Each Illinois eastern prairie fringed orchid population has volunteers or land managers/owners who take demographic data and hand pollinate during the bloom period of the eastern prairie fringed orchid.  Here, Scott Kobal is counting the number of flowers on one plant.
Each Illinois eastern prairie fringed orchid population has volunteers or land managers/owners who take demographic data and hand pollinate during the bloom period of the eastern prairie fringed orchid. Here, Scott Kobal is counting the number of flowers on one plant. - Photo Credit: USFWS
Carol Godoy and Scott Kobal take demographic data on each plant within one Illinois eastern prairie fringed orchid population.
Carol Godoy and Scott Kobal take demographic data on each plant within one Illinois eastern prairie fringed orchid population. - Photo Credit: USFWS
In appreciation for all of the time and hard work that the Illinois eastern prairie fringed orchid volunteers give to recover this species, Nachusa Grasslands (The Nature Conservancy) graciously offered the group a
In appreciation for all of the time and hard work that the Illinois eastern prairie fringed orchid volunteers give to recover this species, Nachusa Grasslands (The Nature Conservancy) graciously offered the group a "behind the scenes" fall tour. Here, the group observed Nachusa's free roaming bison herd. - Photo Credit: USFWS

Illinois recorded 1,186 blooming eastern prairie fringed orchid plants from all populations in 2017. This number is down by 750 blooming plants from 2016 (n=1936), but the 2016 count was the highest recorded number of blooming plants since we started keeping records in 1991.

This season some of our eastern prairie fringed orchid populations had their highest number ever for the number of blooming plants recorded. Other Illinois populations had hefty numbers, even though it was not their all-time high years.

A few noteworthy 2017 events included placing seed in appropriate habitat at Fermilab (Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory). This Laboratory is located just outside Batavia, Illinois, near Chicago, and is a United State Department of Energy national laboratory. This was the first year that easterm prairie fringed orchid seed touched Fermilab ground but we hope to continue this effort for the next 4 years.

Seed was also placed in appropriate habitat on a parcel of land that is part of the Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge. Hackmatack is a new refuge in McHenry County, Illinois. We also hope to continue this effort for the next 4 years.

On September 24, 2017, Nachusa Grasslands hosted the Illinois eastern prairie fringed orchid volunteers (there are one to two volunteers per Illinois orchid population) to a tour of their grounds and a demonstration of their seeding facility. We saw wonderful natural habitat of all types and we saw free roaming bison. A warm thank you to Nachusa staff for making this event possible.


Contact Info: Cathy Pollack, 847/ 608-3101, cathy_pollack@fws.gov
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