FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media contact: Brooke LeMaire
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
305-667-1651, ext. 3392
Native Florida butterfly orchids
Coral Gables, FL, April 15, 2016 – Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden and the Village of Palmetto Bay have partnered to increase the number of native and endangered Florida orchids as part of the Million Orchid Project. The conservation initiative, which began in December 2012 with the opening of Fairchild’s DiMare Science Village, aims to grow one million endangered orchids and reintroduce them to South Florida’s urban spaces. Palmetto Bay officials, Fairchild staff, and students of the BioTECH @ Richmond Heights High School botany magnet program will join on Earth Day, Friday, April 22 at 8:00 a.m., to plant native orchids in trees at the triangular median located at 16725 S. Dixie Highway in Palmetto Bay.
The event will begin with addresses by Fairchild Director Dr. Carl Lewis, Palmetto Bay Mayor Eugene Flinn, and the Village Council. Volunteers and BioTECH students, who have been instrumental in collecting data for the Million Orchid Project, will then plant orchids onto the street trees.
Palmetto Bay is the second municipality in Miami-Dade County to participate in the Million Orchid Project. The City of Coral Gables hosted the first ceremonial planting at its City Hall on Earth Day in 2014. In addition to partnering with Fairchild, the Village has joined efforts with its Tree Advisory Board to incorporate more orchids into its urban forestry program and beautification projects. Palmetto Bay has been recognized as a Tree City USA community since 2008 and received its first Growth Award in 2011 from the Arbor Day Foundation for its dedication to environmentally friendly practices. Its support of the Million Orchid Project will increase the chances of native orchids one day covering Florida’s street trees.
Many native orchid species have dwindled in numbers throughout the years due to over collecting, poaching, and habitat loss. In order to grow, their seeds need to combine with a symbiotic fungus for nutrients. Because of this particularity, it is unlikely they will recover their population without help.
Fairchild’s Million Orchid Project, a true citizen science endeavor, hopes to involve the community in this important environmental restoration initiative. Propagating one million orchids in flasks containing nutrient-rich growth medium will prepare them for installation onto street trees, where they will continue to grow and bloom on their own. Currently, more than 100 middle and high schools have mini botany labs installed in their classrooms to propagate and one day plant these orchids. With Palmetto Bay’s participation, more Miami-Dade County municipalities are on board as well.
For more information, please visit the Million Orchid Project webpage at www.fairchildgarden.org/science-conservation-/the-million-orchid-project.
About Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
Established in 1938 and comprising 83 acres in Miami, Fla., Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to exploring, explaining and conserving the world of tropical plants. The world-renowned plant collections feature palms, cycads, orchids, tropical fruit trees and more. Fairchild has the largest education program of any metropolitan area, reaching more than 200,000 schoolchildren each year with environmental programs like The Fairchild Challenge. It aims to inspire a greater knowledge and love for plants and gardening so that all can enjoy the beauty and bounty of the tropical world. Special events include Chocolate, Mango, and Orchid Festivals in addition to an annual art exhibition, concerts, plant sales and more.