The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is working to preserve and protect Minnesota’s native orchids. The Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, which receives a portion of Minnesota Lottery proceeds, has supported this project.

David Remucal, Curator of Endangered Plants at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, speaks about why protecting the Minnesota state flower, the Showy Lady Slipper, and other native orchids is important. 

"Orchids are special for different reasons for different people, I think. Plants don't have tigers and pandas and elephants, you know, the big flashy animals. We kind of have orchids and carnivorous plants. And orchids are what people know, and a lot of what people know are the tropical orchids that you buy at a grocery store or at a flower shop. A lot of people don't know that Minnesota has any orchids at all. There are 48 native species and we even have some really, really pretty orchids in Minnesota. The Showy Lady Slipper is the state flower. And most people don't know that the Showy Lady Slipper is an orchid. But there are several other lady slipper species as well, including some that are endangered. In Minnesota there are ten species on the Minnesota State Endangered Species List.

As beautiful and as popular as orchids are, there's a lot about native orchids that we just don't know. This project has been around for about three years now. We're trying to protect the genetics of all orchid species and, as part of that work, we're creating a seed bank. We have to know how to grow those seeds up to plants, and put those plants back out in the landscape. Our mission is to protect all of Minnesota orchids, and bring orchids to the Arboretum so we can educate people about them because orchids are a pretty fantastic resource. There's something that I think a lot of Minnesotans can emotionally connect to. If we get people enthusiastic about orchids, we can get them enthusiastic about conserving orchids…but maybe getting them interested in conserving native species in general." 

More than $2.9 billion in lottery proceeds have helped our state, including more than $1.2 billion to preserve, restore and protect Minnesota’s environment and $1.7 billion to help fund state programs including education, public safety and health & human resources.