2021 PA Botany Symposium Opening Session

Native Orchid Conservation Efforts at Longwood Gardens

Peter Zale, Ph.D. Associate Director, Plant Breeding, and Collections, Longwood Gardens

Successful orchid conservation requires a multidisciplinary approach that supports in situ and ex situ conservation. Public gardens are expected to play a key role in supporting these efforts. Longwood Gardens initiated a native orchid conservation program in 2015 that focuses on horticultural aspects of ex situ orchid conservation including seed propagation, seedling establishment, and collections development, that is balanced with in situ restoration, population assessments of rare species, and field work to catalogue previously unknown orchid occurrences. Peter will present on the development, successful outcomes, and future aspirations of the program to date with specific attention paid to projects and partnerships in Pennsylvania. 

Peter Zale, Ph.D. holds a Master’s degree and Ph.D in plant breeding and genetics (2009, 2014) from The Ohio State University and is currently Associate Director, Conservation, Plant Breeding, and Collections, at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA. In this position he leads curatorial activities, the plant breeding programs, the plant exploration program, and the plant conservation program. His main efforts at Longwood have centered around development of a comprehensive conservation horticulture program focused on native orchids of the U.S. and temperate terrestrial orchids from around the world. In his spare time, he has been building his own “private botanical garden” with extensive collections of native plants, hardy orchids, geophytes, woodland plants, trees, shrubs, and a variety of other plants that reflect personal interests and the idea that gardens serve as a tool for ex situ plant conservation.