News / USA

Public Gets Rare View of Endangered Plants

US Botanic Garden houses more than 10,000 plants

Photographers like Josefina Mateo from California hold up the tourist traffic in the orchid room at the US Botanic Garden.
Photographers like Josefina Mateo from California hold up the tourist traffic in the orchid room at the US Botanic Garden.

Multimedia

Audio
Rosanne Skirble

A plant in Namibia survives on fog. Visitors can get a rare look at the Welwitschia or Desert Onion on display at the U.S. Botanic Garden, a glass-domed building at the foot of the United States Capitol in Washington.

Opened in 1820, the U.S. Botanic Garden houses more than 10,000 plants in exhibits which reflect the world’s deserts, jungles and other landscapes. Rare and endangered species are spotlighted.

Horticulturalist Ray Mins says the lush varieties in and around rocks of an artificial lava flow and waterfall in the Hawaii room, drive that message home.

“Hawaii has one of the smallest land masses in North America, but has the largest percentage of endangered species. Almost every plant you see in this room is endangered.”

Mins points out Brighamia or “Cabbage on a Stick” whose population has been decimated in the wild due to overgrazing, development and competition from invasive plants.

Mins says the delicate balance between plant and pollinator has been upset  “The pollinator of that plant is extinct and there’s no natural way for that plant to be pollinated, although in captivity you can pollinate it.”

Jody Johnson represents Pollinator Partnership and was among two dozen exhibitors who were recently stationed at booths along garden walkways. Her group promotes the health of pollinators, critical to food and ecosystems.  

She says beyond the birds, bees and butterflies are other important pollinators to watch.  “Bats, geckos, and flying squirrels being examples that people don’t know about.”

Like all flowers, orchids are dependent on pollinators. The U.S. Botanic Garden has some 5,000 species which are grown and propagaged at the garden's research center.  

The way they are rotated 200 at a time into tree trunks and branches along a misty forest like walkway captivates Californian Josefina Mateo, and her family, visiting from the Philippines. “I saw this little nook in the corner with orchids from the Philippines. That got me excited.”  

As his sister-in-law takes pictures, Raul de los Santos gets a closer look at an orchid he rarely sees at home.

“Having this represented helps especially for my kids to understand that there are certain things to be more aware of in the environment. We’re losing a lot of the special species that we have.”  

Horticulturist Mins is troubled that so many orchids, like the ones in this display, are endangered, largely from illegal collectors.

He says the orchids help teach a lesson to passersby. “We hope that people see the beauty of native and endangered plants and can walk away understanding that actions that we take as humans and as gardeners really can affect plants and what we can do at home can help protect endangered species.”

Nancy Guyer of Clinton, Maryland comes to the garden to relax and is moved by what she sees.

“When something is gone from the world, there is no getting it back.  And everything on earth was put there for a reason, and it all affects how we live.”

You May Like

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid