Plants and Animals

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Species of Concern: Small whorled pogonia

Common Name: Small whorled pogonia

Scientific Name: Isotria medeoloides

Range: Bollinger County (historical)

Classification: Critically imperiled in Missouri

To learn more about endangered species: see links listed below

This small perennial is sort of Missouri’s botanical Holy Grail. It is considered threatened throughout its range, which includes most of the Eastern Seaboard. It has been found in 18 states and is critically imperiled in 14. It has been found only once in Missouri, in Bollinger County in 1897. However, new populations have been discovered in New England, raising hopes it could be rediscovered here.

Small whorled pogonia exists in isolated populations, seldom numbering more than 25. “Whorled” refers to the distinctive arrangement of four to six leaves beneath one or two small, green-to-yellowish-green flowers. The entire plant stands only about 10 inches tall.

Its slightly more common relative, large whorled pogonia (Isotria verticillata), is known to occur in only four southeast Missouri counties. Large whorled pogonia has longer, purple-tinged sepals and petals.

Researchers are seeking ways to conserve small whorled pogonia in states where it is still found.

Don’t “Rescue” Fawns

Removing these young animals puts them at risk.

Each spring, deer fawns are removed from the wild needlessly and against their best interests. Very young fawns spend much of their time alone in secluded spots carefully chosen by their mothers. Well-meaning people imagine these animals are orphans and take them home or to wildlife rescue societies. This dramatically reduces their chances of surviving to live normal lives. “Rescued” deer can be returned to the spots where they were found. Human scent will not keep their mothers away.

Nighthawks

These urban-dwelling birds are murder on mosquitoes.

The common nighthawk (Chordeiles minor) is not a hawk, but a member of the “goatsucker” family, Caprimulgidae. English superstition held that these birds used their wide mouths to steal milk from dairy goats. A better name would be “mosquitosuckers.” Nighthawks and their close relatives, whippoor-wills and chuck-will’s-widows, consume hundreds of the biting insects daily. White wing bars and a nasal “peent” call (like a woodcock) identify nighthawks on the wing. They like to nest atop flat, gravel-covered roofs and frequently forage around street lights, which attract swarms of insects. Their affinity for urban areas has enabled nighthawks to spread beyond their natural nesting habitat—glades, prairies and other open areas. They spend the winter in South America. Visit the links listed below for more information.

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