Cornell University
All in-person summer programs or activities (e.g., summer classes, conferences and events) have been moved online or cancelled. During the fall semester, in-person concerts, events and lectures that involve outside guests will not be held, per the university’s COVID-19 travel and visitor policy (PDF).

This is a past event. Its details are archived for historical purposes.

The contact information may no longer be valid.

Please visit our current events listings to look for similar events by title, location, or venue.

Conserving Native Orchids: An Earth Day Conversation

Monday, April 22, 2019 at 12:00pm to 1:30pm

Brian C. Nevin Welcome Center
124 Comstock Knoll Road, Ithaca, NY 14850

Bring a bag lunch and join us for a special Earth Day program focused on the natural history and conservation of native orchids. The Orchidaceae is a species-rich family of flowering plants with more than 30,000 known taxa globally. Like most terrestrial plants, orchid species interact with mycorrhizal fungi, but unlike most plants, there is little evidence that the interactions are mutualistic. Most research indicates that orchids manage the plant-fungal interactions and they consume the fungi as sources of carbon and other resources. Dependency on fungi has evolved in a number of orchid lineages to a complete dependency on fungi resulting in many species being completely mycoheterotrophic. Understanding orchid-fungal interactions is not only interesting, but it is key to orchid conservation because all orchids have, at least, one life history stage that is completely depending on fungi.


12:00 – 12:05     Welcome & Introduction: Dr. Christopher Dunn, E.N. Wilds Director, Cornell Botanic Gardens

12:05 – 12:40     Native Orchids and Mycorrhiza – Ecologically Complex Interactions: Dr. Dennis Whigham, Senior Botanist, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center and Founding Director of the North American Orchid Conservation Center, Edgewater, MD

Dr. Whigham will focus on native orchids of the U.S. and Canada to describe the ecological challenges that remain obstacles to a more complete understanding of orchid-fungal interactions. He will link issues related to orchid ecology to a Smithsonian-initiated continental-scale effort to use an ecological model to conserve native orchids through a collaborative effort that is being developed by the North American Orchid Conservation Center (NAOCC). Dennis will describe how NAOCC's allies are providing important orchid conservation support, and how both scientists and the public can become engaged in this effort to assure the survival of an entire plant family on a continental scale.  New York state alone has about 59 species of native orchids, which need our collective and collaborative attention to ensure their preservation.

12:40 – 1:00        The Orchids of Cornell Botanic Gardens: Robert Wesley, Field Botanist

Did you know that the Natural Areas of Cornell Botanic Gardens are host to 24 species of native orchids?  Staff Botanist Robert Wesley will share highlights of these species, including several that are facing conservation challenges and declining or believed extirpated from our preserves.   

1:00 – 1:30          Panel Discussion Q&A  


Google Calendar iCal Outlook
Event Type



CALS Communications, Cornell Botanic Gardens, Sustainability





#orchids, native plants, conservation

Contact E-Mail

Contact Name

Kevin Moss

Contact Phone



Christopher P. Dunn, E.N. Wilds Director, Cornell Botanic Gardens, Dennis Whigham, Senior Botanist, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center and Founding Director of the North American Orchid Conservation Center, Robert Wesley, Field Botanist

Speaker Affiliation

Cornell Botanic Gardens, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center

Dept. Web Site

Open To


Recent Activity