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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
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Drawing of a botanical specimen

Do you have a burning question about botanical conservation or illustration? Did you have a question after viewing the exhibit? Ask the expert! Our scientists and illustrators will be available during specific time periods to answer some of your submitted questions and to share it with others here. Our experts will be posting answers to your questions on the following dates

  • September 13th - Dr. Gary Krupnick, Conservation Biologist
  • October 11th - Alice Tangerini, Botanical Illustrator
  • November 15th- Dr. Gary Krupnick, Conservation Biologist

You'll have until the Friday before each date to submit your questions. We'll try to answer as many of your questions as possible. We're currently accepting questions through Friday, November 12. Having trouble coming up with a question? To get you thinking, here is Dr. Krupnick's answer to one question we have already received.

Question: I'm an orchid enthusiast, and I love the illustrations of the orchids in the exhibit. I've noticed a few species of orchids in the exhibit that are quite common. Why are they included? From Bob in Florida

Answer: Each of the illustrations in the exhibit features a plant that is listed in the IUCN Red List, the US Endangered Species Act (or other country), listed by a state or states, Natureserve, or CITES. There are a few species on display in the exhibit that are not under immediate threat, but are listed by CITES to prevent illegal international trading of species. Because CITES lists all species in the orchid and cactus families, we included some of these species. The exhibit catalog features more information about each species. For instance, the entry for Phragmipedium kovachii includes the following: "...in spite of the plant having been stripped from several mountain habitats by poachers, this brilliant magenta orchid still survives and even thrives in some inaccessible locations. The existing sites are under government protection, which allows no human activity in the areas. That a plant such as this remained undiscovered for so long is a cautionary tale for the retention of intact wilderness areas that may hold as yet undiscovered treasures."

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