The Ridges Sanctuary

Preservation, Education, and Research

Orchid Restoration Project

The Ridges Sanctuary is leading the way in terrestrial orchid research and restoration, including the threatened Ram’s Head Lady’s Slipper


Since our founding in 1937, The Ridges Sanctuary has had a vested interest in native orchid research. The beauty of these flowers is what attracted conservationists to the property over 80 years ago, and their continued survival across our 1,600+ acres is a critical component of our mission today. To date, we have been able to locate 29 of Wisconsin’s 40 species of native orchids within the Sanctuary. Unfortunately, there are species that have disappeared from the landscape and populations that are dwindling in numbers. Our goals are to inventory our current orchid populations, understand the specific environmental conditions and germination techniques required by each species, and identify the ongoing threats to these populations which include habitat fragmentation, deer herbivory and climate change.

Through our collaboration with entities such as the North American Orchid Conservation Center (based at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center), University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, Illinois College, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, Chicago Botanic Garden, and others, we have quickly become a leader in orchid research in the Mid-West. Our success with orchid research is due to the collaborative efforts of our staff, partner organizations, and citizen science volunteers. Read our blog about recent efforts to document and protect orchid species at

Current Efforts:

Past Publications: