Wisconsin Orchid Show Brings Rare Plants to Milwaukee

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Wisconsin Orchid Show Brings Rare Plants to Milwaukee

Nicholas Chang, Editor

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The forest is in Thailand. The sounds of crashing waves is only metres away as you approach a moss and lichen studded limestone cliff. Growing out of a crevice in the rock is a small, white lady-slipper freckled with maroon-brown flecks. This orchid, Paphiopedilum godefroyae, is considered endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Yet, just this weekend, three of these plants were on display, in the middle of Milwaukee, no less.

The Wisconsin Orchid Society takes over the Mitchell Park Domes for one weekend each year for their annual show and sale. This event, which attracts guests from as far away as Connecticut, pits beautiful orchids against each other for prizes. Plants owned by orchid society are arranged in one of several displays in the Mitchell Park’s Show Dome. Plants are selected by a panel of judges based on things like bloom display, plant size, among others.

Paphiopedilum godefroyae

In addition to the show, a handful of vendors set up shop in the Domes’ lobby and sell plants which they have propagated. Such vendors offer a great variety of plants, ranging from the most common Phalaenopsis and Cattleyas to rarer plants like Ionopsis and Dryadella. These plants, grown sustainably, are sold at reasonable prices to orchid enthusiasts, which helps reduce the pressure of collection on wild populations.

As a whole, the Wisconsin Orchid Show and Sale continues to offer Milwaukee-area residents with the opportunity to see a variety of rare plants, such as the Paphipedilum godefroyae, in person, and with the plethora of horticultural enthusiasts present at the event, anyone who wants to grow some of these endangered plants in their homes has an excellent chance to be inducted into the orchid-growing cult.

You can find out more about the Wisconsin Orchid Society here and the event itself here.


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