A Mystery of Hiding Orchids, Solved

A Mystery of Hiding Orchids, Solved

Smithsonian scientists have discovered what triggers the rare small-whorled pogonia to awaken from dormancy

One of the rarest orchids east of the Mississippi, the small-whorled pogonia, emerges from a long dormancy when there is an abundance of specific fungi in the soil. (Melissa McCormick)

By Jackson Landers

smithsonian.com
Orchids can hide. Members of this diverse family of plants, known for their wildly attractive flowers, have long been recognized for their ability to enter extended periods of dormancy—sometimes for a year or longer. The plants take refuge underground, and with no leaves and no need for photosynthesis, the orchids rely on fungi for the nutrients they need to survive. Read more.