CORAL GABLES, FL — The U.S. Postal Service celebrates the striking beauty of wild orchids with the release of the Wild Orchids Forever stamps. Part of the largest family of plants on Earth, orchids grow in many climates and thrive under a variety of conditions.
The stamps were dedicated at the American Orchid Society Library at the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Coral Gables, FL.
Art director Ethel Kessler designed the stamps with photographs taken by James A. Fowler.
North America is home to approximately 200 native orchid species. They grow wild across the country and can be hard to spot, especially in swamps, bogs, and wetlands.
In 2020, the United States Postal Service issued a set of 10 new Forever stamps picturing wild orchids of America. Each is a beautiful wildflower most people do not get the opportunity to see. They are all hard to find today.
All orchid species are vulnerable to environmental changes and habitat loss. This is because they depend on specific animals and fungi to survive. Most species are found only in wetlands, which are quickly disappearing. One organization working to protect and restore native orchids is the North American Orchid Conservation Center. It is jointly operated by the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center and the US Botanic Garden. With their nationwide work, there is hope for our native wild orchids yet.
It may be tempting to dig up a wild orchid, but this is the last thing you should do. They are very sensitive to change, and in order to preserve them for future generations, it is important to look, not touch. You will appreciate the beauty and wonder of wild orchids even more knowing the only way to enjoy them is by getting out and exploring nature.
“Orchids can be hard to find in a natural setting and today there is a conservation effort to preserve these beautiful flowers,” said Jakki Krage Strako, chief customer and marketing officer and executive vice president, of U.S. Postal Service, who served as the event’s dedicating official. “Each of these stamps represents a masterpiece of nature that blossoms with color. They also continue the Postal Service tradition of showcasing the natural beauty of flowers on stamps.”
Joining Strako to dedicate the stamps were Georgia Tasker, author, horticulture writer, and Pulitzer Prize finalist; Susan Wedegaertner, president, of the American Orchid Society; photographer James A. Fowler; and Lawrence Zettler, director of the orchid recovery program, Illinois College.
“Orchids are the world’s most familiar group of flowers and these charming stamps showcase nine of the over 200 orchid species native to the United States,” said Zettler. “These stamps also serve as a reminder of their beauty and their vulnerability.”
Each stamp features a photograph of one of these nine species: Cypripedium californicum, Hexalectris spicata, Cypripedium reginae, Spiranthes odorata, Triphora trianthophoros, Platanthera Grandiflora, Cyrtopodium podophyllum, Calopogon tuberosus, and Platanthera leucophaea. The booklet contains 10 stamp designs and each design is featured twice for a total of 20 stamps. Tripura tranthophoros is featured on two stamp designs, including the booklet cover.
The Wild Orchids stamps will also be issued in coils of 3,000 and 10,000.
There are more than 30,000 species of wild orchids in the world. Many that are native to North America are endangered or threatened, making sightings in their natural environment increasingly rare.
These striking flowers are native to damp woodlands, and numerous organizations across the country are working to preserve orchid habitats. Orchids also thrive in cultivated gardens or as houseplants.
“It’s amazing that my passions of photographing wild orchids and stamp collecting have converged today with the release of these stamps,” said Fowler. “My childhood interest in photography began on the knee of my mother, who was an accomplished photographer; my passion for the beauty of plants, I learned from my great-grandmother, who was a botanist at the Department of Agriculture; and the hobby of stamp collecting, I picked up from my older brother.”
The Wild Orchids stamps are being issued as Forever stamps, which will always be equal in value to the current First-Class Mail 1-ounce price.
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