Native orchids of the Southern Appalachian Mountains subject of PAC talk

Published 10:00 pm Friday, February 17, 2017

The Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC) and the Landrum Library invite the public to attend a free presentation on “Native Orchids of the Southern Appalachian Mountains,” presented by Jim Fowler. The program will be held at the Landrum Library, 111 East Asbury Dr. in Landrum on Thursday, Feb. 23 at 6:30 p.m. 

Pink Lady’s Slipper (Cypripedium acaule), a native and showy orchid. (photo by Ben Geer Keys)

Pink Lady’s Slipper (Cypripedium acaule), a native and showy orchid. (photo by Ben Geer Keys)

The Southern Appalachian Mountains region is recognized as one of the most floristically diverse areas in North America. Its rich forests and wet, boggy meadows provide the perfect environment for dozens of species of our colorful and mysterious native orchids. Stretching from West Virginia to northern Alabama, the rolling hillsides are host to orchid flowers from March to November.

Many of our native orchid species are quite small, and some of them would not be recognized as orchid species except by a trained naturalist. Learning to identify a few of the more common species will add richness to any hike in the woods.

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While there are only three of our native orchid species that keep their green leaves through the winter, many of those that lose their leaves in the fall will leave their characteristic seed capsules behind for identification. If you know where to look, it is surprisingly easy to find many of the more common orchid species even on roadside margins within easy reach for photography and study. Come join Jim for an in-depth look into the jewels of Southern Appalachian flora.

Jim Fowler is an independent botanist, photographer, and author. He will have copies of his book, “Wild Orchids of South Carolina: A Popular Natural History,” available for purchase for those who are interested.

This program is best for adults, and children who listen like adults. Families are welcome, too.

This program is made possible thanks to a Free Community Events grant from the Polk County Community Foundation (PCCF).

For more information, contact the Pacolet Area Conservancy at 828-859-5060 or e-mail Keep an eye on the PAC website,, for information on upcoming PAC/Landrum Library programs at the Landrum Library. The next scheduled program will take place on March 14 when Dr. Gillian Newberry will present on “Endangered Plants of the Piedmont” at 6 p.m.

– article submitted by Pam Torlina