Jackie Donnelly, local amateur naturalist and wildflower expert, photographed an orchid in Moreau Lake State Park, unaware of it being a rare variety. Her friend Dan Wall, an orchid enthusiast and artist, noticed the petals of the orchids in the photos were not the ordinary variety of Autumn Coralroot (Corallorhiza odontorhiza var. odontorhiza), but rather the extremely rare variety called Pringle’s Autumn Coralroot (C. odontorhiza var. pringlei). Using Jackie’s photos, he sent them to the orchid experts who confirmed the findings. The combined efforts of Dan Wall and Jackie Donnelly made this discovery happen, putting Moreau Lake State Park on the map as a very special place for rare plants to survive.
Jackie’s words: “I am really excited to share with you and other NY parks folks some news I received yesterday. Steve Young, chief botanist with the NY Natural Heritage Program, wrote to tell me that my photos of Autumn Coralroot Orchid (taken a couple of years ago in Moreau Lake State Park) were critical in determining that the orchid in question was the extremely rare variety called Pringle’s Autumn Coralroot (Corallorhiza odontorhiza var. pringlei). This is a variety last recorded from only one single county in the state (Monroe) way back in 1903, and not reported again from there or any other NY county in all the years since then. The New York Flora Association’s Plant Atlas lists it as extirpated from the state.
We are grateful to have such dedicated naturalists as Jackie and Dan in our community. We thank them for being stewards of our park and shining a light on our natural world so that others not only may enjoy, but also support and protect our home. Dan is currently writing a book about native New York orchids and Jackie continues her treks through our region sharing her expertise through photography and narrative.
You can read Jackie’s full blog at:
All photos by Jackie Donnelly