Conservation Collections

Conservation

The key to Atlanta Botanical Garden's Conservation Program is using low-cost restoration and recovery techniques, and to work directly with local landowners and any relevant agencies, botanical institutes and organizations.

The success of the program is based on the high level of horticultural and botanical expertise of its staff members, their dedication to each project and their ability to work on a variety of different levels - local, national or international.

Give to Conservation

The heart of the native plant conservation program at the Atlanta Botanical Garden is the Conservation Support Greenhouse where newly propagated endangered native plants are nurtured.

Native plants used in plant recovery projects around the Southeast are cultivated at the Garden. The plant nursery provides a place to grow them to maturity before transplanting them back in the field.

Visitors are able to see and gain a better understanding of the conservation and restoration work that the Garden has been conducting since 1989.

Plants of New Caledonia

An Ancient and Diverse Flora

New Caldeonia, an archipelago halfway between Australia and Fiji, is an extraordinary tropical island. With white sands and palm trees, the island's most striking floristic feature is the conifers belonging to the ancient plant family Araucariaceae. These trees are often called "living fossils" because they resemble their ancestors the Arauchariads, trees that forested the Earth during the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods (ages of the dinosaurs, 200 to 65 million years ago).  

The Garden has a diverse collection of plants from New Caledonia.  Many of the plants are on display and can be found throughout the Fuqua Conservatory. 

Conservation Greenhouse

Native plants used in plant recovery projects around the Southeast are cultivated in the Garden's Tissue Culture Lab. Once they are propagated, the seedlings are moved to the Conservation Greenhouse. This plant nursery provides a place to grow them to maturity before transplanting them back in the field. The Greenhouse shelters plants such as Vanilla, Laelia Purpurata, Bucket Orchid, Kentucky Ladyslipper, Monkey Face Orchid, and the Cigar Orchid.

 

Cigar Orchid Restoration Project

The Cigar Orchid is one of many rare orchids growing in the Conservation Greenhouse. In the 1940’s, healthy populations of the Cigar Orchid were nearly decimated in Florida through loss of habitat and harvesting by collectors. In 2007, the Garden was asked by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection; Division of Parks and Recreation to assist in recovery efforts of the Cigar Orchid within the Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve. At the time, fewer than 20 orchids were growing in the the park.

In 2009, the first orchid capsule was harvested and sent to the Garden’s Tissue Culture Lab where staff and dedicated volunteers propagated plants for recovery. With financial assistance from the Association of Zoological Horticulture, Friends of the Fakahatchee Strand and the Naples Orchid Society Scholarship Program, the recovery team has established over 500 new Cigar Orchids in the Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve.


 

Monkey Face Orchids

In Georgia, the Monkey Face Orchid (Platanthera integrilabia) grows in parts of the Blue Ridge Mountains and down into the upper Piedmont region near Carroll and Coweta counties. Its preferred habitat is shady seepage bogs and floodplains of small spring-fed creeks.

There are abundant threats to the species that often can be easily noticed,  such as aggressive non-native species, the widespread use of herbicide and more often, the conversion of habitat to pine plantation and urban development. One easily overlooked but necessary component of the ecosystem is pollinator function and availability. Many of the lingering populations of monkey face orchids remain as ‘fugitive’ populations that depend on pollinators to locate and cross pollinate them in order to successfully reproduce. Pollinators such as the Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus) and the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilo glaucus) can travel great distances, unsuspectingly carrying pollen from one remote population of the orchid to the next. The serious limit comes in the lack of suitable habitat corridors for these insects to travel, and the remote and often isolated and densely covered populations of the orchids.

In order for populations of the Monkey Face Orchid to persist in the wild, they need suitable pollinator activity and the exchange of genetic material for future generations. The Garden has been active for years, providing habitat management expertise, collecting germplasm from many populations for propagation and safeguarding while actively surveying for additional populations. Garden staff remain active in the conservation of this rare and threatened part of our natural heritage.

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