Thursday, July 19, 2007

Yosemite Bog Orchid Discovered in Yosemite Park

70 years elapsed after George Henry Grinnell collected the first specimens in 1923 before... botanists rediscovered its location in 1993...
two U.S. Geological Survey botanists and a colleague at the New York StateMuseum have identified the orchid as a new species, the Yosemite bog-orchid(Platanthera yosemitensis)... a recent publication in the journal of theCalifornia Botanical Society, Madro?o.
... Peggy Moore, a USGS plant ecologist in El Portal, Calif.... one of thebotanists who identified the orchid....Moore and fellow USGS botanist Alison Colwell... had noticed the anomalousdistribution in the plant guide Flora of North America of a southernRockies bog-orchid that was also reported from Yosemite National Park inCalifornia....Beginning in 2003... Colwell and Moore relocated the site where others hadcollected the orchid, mapped additional sites where they discovered itgrowing, and searched several plant collections (herbaria) to examinebog-orchid specimens. ... in consultation with... Charles Sheviak, Curatorof Botany at the New York State Museum, they determined the orchid was anew, undescribed species.
Sheviak [said]... "I've... have described other new species of Platanthera,so I'm used to being surprised. However, to find such a strikinglydistinctive plant in such a well-known locality is truly astonishing. Thefact that it appears to be confined to such a small geographic area isfurthermore unique among related species."
Yosemite bog-orchid is known currently from only nine sites within YosemiteNational Park, all on the granitic upland south of Yosemite Valley, betweenthe main stem and the South Fork of the Merced River. As the orchid's rangeis understood currently, it is the only orchid species endemic to theSierra Nevada of California....tiny flowers...Yosemite bog-orchids have a strong musk component that, according to theauthors, has been likened by various observers to a "corral of horses,asafetida, strong cheese, human feet, sweaty clothing, or simplydisagreeable."...
in the upland area south of Yosemite Valley... This area, largely free ofice during the most recent glacial events in the last two million years,contains at least seven species of plants known only from the central andsouthern Sierra Nevada


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