2020 55¢ Platanthera Leucophaea (Eastern Prairie Fringed Orchid)
Value: 55¢ 1-ounce First-class rate (Forever)
Issue Date: February 21, 2020
First Day City:
Coral Gables, FL
Type of Stamp: Definitive
Printed by: Banknote Corporation of America
Printing Method: Offset
Format: Coil of 3,000 OR Coil of 10,000
Quantity Printed: 15,000,000 OR 50,000,000
Many wild orchids native to the United States are federally listed endangered species. One especially threatened species is Platanthera leucophaea – the "eastern prairie fringed" orchid.
Platanthera leucophaea is a large, showy orchid with up to 40 small, white flowers. It grows up to three feet tall and is found in wet tallgrass prairies, meadows, and old fields. Most eastern prairie fringed orchids are found in the Great Lakes Region, though small groups have been seen in parts of Maine, Virginia, iowa, and Missouri. It is believed the plant also once grew in Oklahoma, but, as of 2019, had not been found there for at least 150 years.
Like other prairie plants, naturally occurring wildfires are a necessary part of the eastern prairie fringed orchid's life cycle. The orchid's special root base allows it to survive the heat of the fire and triggers the flowers to bloom. These flowers are pollinated by nocturanl hawk and sphinx moths. These moths also have specially adapted, extra-long proboscises (tongues) which allow them to drink the orchid's nectar.
In September 1999, the US Fish and Wildlife Service initiated a plan to help recover and protect the eastern prairie fringed orchid. With the help of this plan, this stunning orchid will hopefully be around for many years to come.