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New England Is Losing Its Native Plants. Researchers Say It’s Time To Stop And Smell The Wildflowers

wbur – 90.9 – “Where have all the wild orchids gone? A recent study finds that about one quarter of native New England wildflower species have been lost in the last 150 years. This means that purple-fringed orchids and pink lady slippers — once abundant in the region — are disappearing from some areas, often replaced by non-native species. Researchers worry that this loss of biodiversity may harm local ecosystems. “Wildflowers are an important part of biological diversity; they’re an important part of the environment,” says Boston University biology professor Richard Primack, who co-authored the study in the journal Rhodora. “They provide us with clean water, clean air, they also support pollinators which also pollinate our crops.”

Researchers used botanical records from the 1800s documenting wildflowers at 13 different locations in New England and New York, and compared them to current wildflower observations. They found that native New England wildflower families — like lilies and orchids — are disappearing, while invasive species like purple loosestrife are moving in. (And Massachusetts’ state flower, the mayflower? Once abundant around Concord, these pale pink or white flowers are now hard to find, says Primack.)…”

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