Hybridization and Fungal Symbionts of Platanthera orchids

North America is home to many native orchids, with Platanthera being the most species rich genus of terrestrial orchid on the continent. It has about 100 species found throughout the temperate climates of the world, but are new species still forming? What could be driving this remarkable diversity? Orchids also form a complex symbiotic relationship with fungi in their roots. As a possible driver of speciation, the diversity of this mycorrhizal fungi in species and hybrids of Platanthera across the eastern US are being analyzed.

Through funding from the American Orchid Society, the Garden is working in partnership with the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center to address these questions.