A former iron mine site of 100 acres in upstate NY is now home to six species of bog orchids. As stated in an article by Mary Esch in the Philadelphia Inquirer, even scientists are blown away from this Adirondack site because it happened naturally.
Grete Bader, a graduate from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, completed her masters thesis on the site and says that in addition to the six types of native orchids, there have been signs of a rare Pink Shinleaf, otherwise known as pink wintergreen. This rare occurrence is seen as a threatened plant in New York because of its scarceness in other areas.
“The fact that this site restored itself from bare mine tailings to a diverse wetland plant community over the past 60 years is incredible, and the populations of orchids and pink shinleaf notably enhance its conservation value,” Bader said after visiting the site recently.
The future of these orchids is uncertain due to an invasive species called phragmites. This perennial grass has the tendency to engulf the entire area. They currently take up almost nine acres of the land, and the grass is expanding at a rate of three percent per year. As of now, there are no plans to sell the wetland or allow public access. So no matter what happens to these native orchids, the fascinating part is that natural restoration is possible and can be considered in other places.