TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) – It’s going to take thousands of plants to fill the two greenhouses of the museum. One greenhouse will be for prairie (or Ohio-native) plants, and the other for tropical ones.
Dr. Ryan Walsh, Conservation Coordinator with the Toledo Zoo tells 13abc, “We’re going to draw a lot of parallels on how there are equivalent species, sometimes very closely related, in the tropics, as well as here in Ohio.”
One of those plants is one you’ve probably never seen before: Nepenthes.
“They create these pitchers, which are modified leaves,” Dr. Walsh explains. “And it actually traps insects and they digest the insects inside the pitchers. And that’s how they get their nutrients.”
He says that the zoo plans to incorporate a vast number of orchids, the biggest plant family on the planet with more than 20,000 species. He hopes to have 100-125 species at the opening of the museum.
“And one of the reasons why we’re focusing on orchids is because they have this huge variation of how they attract their pollinators, and there’s some really cool biological stories to focus there,” says Dr. Walsh. One of those stories belongs to Darwin’s Orchid.
“The plant actually produces its nectar at the bottom of this tube. And with more research, it turns out that the flower emits such a strong scent that moths from over two miles away can smell it and find the flower.”
He says that Darwin’s Orchid is named for Charles Darwin, who used the plant to hypothesize the existence of a type of moth that wouldn’t even be discovered for 100 years.
Dr. Walsh is acquiring the plants that will fill the greenhouses, and some of them are already housed on zoo grounds. You’ll be able to see all of these – and more – when the museum reopens to the public next spring.