Illinois College Biology Professor Larry Zettler and student Ellen Radcliffe ’14 are mentioned in the Kauai Traveler magazine about their work with Hawaiian orchids. Below is a small portion of the article. Click here
to read the entire story.
One species in particular, Plantanthera holochila, was so heavily impacted that just two dozen plants were struggling to survive on Moloka'i, seven on Maui, and just one single plant defiantly clung to its roots in the Alaka'i Swamp of Kaua'i. This article may very well be discussing just two species of native orchids if it were not for the efforts of Steve Perlman, a biologist with the National Tropical Botanical Garden on Kaua'i, and Illinois College professor Dr. Larry Zettler, director of the Orchid Recovery Program. They were able to do what no botanists in the last 20 years could accomplish—propagate this soon-to-be extinct native species. This was no small feat as many species of orchids can be notoriously difficult to grow. Add to the mix that no human eyes had seen this species on O'ahu since 1938, and the few plants left on the other three islands were not long for this world; this was botany's version of a pressure cooker—figure out a way to grow these plants in the nursery or lose them forever. Apparently, Dr. Zettler can handle the heat in the kitchen or is it laboratory? You get the picture.