Missouri prairie orchid expert Dr. David Ashley speaking at Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center March 29

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KIRKWOOD, Mo.— Students and fans of flora appreciate the unique treat it is to see a prairie fringed orchid. These beautiful and delicate white blossoms are found exclusively on Missouri’s prairies. Because these native grasslands are becoming increasingly rare, so too are the orchids that depend on them.

The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) invites anyone wanting to learn more about these endangered orchids to the Natural History of Missouri Prairie Orchids, a presentation by Dr. David Ashley Friday, March 29 from 7-8:30 p.m. at Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center.

Dr. Ashley is Professor Emeritus of Biology at Missouri Western State University (MWSU). His presentation will focus on the biology of the eastern and western white-fringed orchids, two state-endangered prairie orchids. Dr. Ashley’s talk draws from more than 20 years of collaborative work among researchers from MDC, MWSU, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Dr. Ashley will discuss population trends and seasonal influences of both prairie orchids on the only Missouri prairies where they are still known to exist. He will also explore the pollinators essential to their survival. Prairie-fringed orchids have a unique relationship with the sphinx moth, for example. The flowers are most fragrant during the night to attract these nocturnal insects.

Dr. Ashley’s program is free, but advanced online registration is required at https://bit.ly/2E0h4RS. All ages are welcome.

Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center is located at 11715 Cragwold Road in Kirkwood, near the intersection of I-44 and I-270.