I went over to Johnson County this evening to check on some lady slipper orchids that I try and monitor each year. These particular plants went missing for more than ten years. I refound them last year but I was not able to catch them in bloom, in fact I don’t think they did or the blooms were nipped by deer. This year however, things are different.
I have become increasingly convinced that these plants and others like them are increasingly at risk due to the high deer population densities in KS. Several years ago a group of about 8 flowering orchids I was monitoring in Johnson county were all nipped off during one night most likely by deer. I’ve watch one group of plant decline over the last 10 years to where it has not flowered at all for the past 4 and this year there is only one leaf emerged where there used to be 5 plants. I don’t know the normal cycle for these perennials but I am sure that repeated deer herbivory can’t be good. Perhaps it is time to try out a bit of a deer exclosure trial.