Dr. Jyotsna Sharma, who is an Associate Professor at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, TX, is leading conservation research projects at Watson Native Plant Preserve since 2012. The focus of her lab’s…

Dr. Jyotsna Sharma, who is an Associate Professor at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, TX, is leading conservation research projects at Watson Native Plant Preserve since 2012. The focus of her lab’s work is on one of the rare and superbly showy orchids of Texas. Platanthera chapmanii (Chapman’s orchid) is known from only a few locations in southeastern Texas, and Watson Native Plant Preserve hosts the largest population in Texas. Her work has included:

1)   augmenting the native population of the species

2)   locating new populations of the species in Big Thicket National Preserve

3)   developing effective propagation methods for P. chapmanii, and

4)   study of mycorrhizal ecology of the species. In nature, all orchid seeds depend on mycorrhizal fungi for germination, and as seedlings develop into mature plants, they maintain this relationship with their partner fungi.

Graduate (M.S.) student Kirsten E. Poff conducted manipulative experiments to test questions related to propagation and mycorrhizal symbiosis. Ms. Poff graduated in 2016 and is now a Ph.D. student at the University of Hawai

Other team members: Mr. Joe Liggio, Mr. Jim Willis, and Ms. Pauline Singleton assisted with research activities and facilitated permits and other logistics. Without their help, none of the activities would have been possible.

Two-year old laboratory-cultured plants of Platanthera chapmanii were planted at Watson Native Plant Preserve. Survival and emergence has been recorded at >90% two years after planting. Over the years, Dr. Sharma’s team has added hundreds of plants of the species to WNPP


1. Richards M and J Sharma. 2014. A review of conservation efforts for Platanthera chapmanii in Texas and Georgia. Native Orchid Conference Journal 11: 1-11. ISSN 1554-1169.

2. Poff, KE. 2016. Platanthera chapmanii: culture, population augmentation, and mycorrhizal associations. M.S. thesis (Supervisor: J. Sharma). Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX. pp. 142.

3. Poff, KE, J Sharma, and M Richards. 2016. Cold-moist stratification improves germination in a temperate terrestrial orchid. Castanea 81: xx-xx. (In Press)

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Watson Rare Native Plant Preserve is a 501c3 charitable corporation, and donations, while never a requirement for a visit, are always welcome and are tax-deductible.

If you would like to make a donation to support the preserve, and would like for your donation to be tax deductible, pay by check, with the check made out to Watson Rare Native Plant Preserve, and send to Watson Rare Native Plant Preserve, PO Box 533, Warren, TX 77664.

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Events & Links


Board of Directors Meetings


Workdays: Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017, there will be a workday.  The goal will be to prepare for the prescribed burn which we hope to carry out in January.  Starting time ~9:00 am (there will be someone there by 8:00 am and you can arrive later if you need to.  There will be a need for people with gas-powered weed-eaters and lopers.


Birding Walk:  1st Saturday of every month, from 8:00 to ??.  Leader:  Kathleen Appelbaum.

Mushroom  Walk.  Nov. 18, 2017  Starts at 10:00 am.  Leaders: David and Patricia Lewis.  Any interested person is welcome.  Good opportunity to learn more about mushrooms.

Wildflower Walk to find Chapman's Orchid, July 29, 2017.  Starts at 9:30 am.  Leader: Joe Liggio.  All interested people are welcome to attend.

Birding Walk & Wildflower Tour: Saturday, May 6, 2017 starts at 8:00 am. If you can't make it that early, feel free to join us later in the morning. Everyone is welcome.

Mushroom Walk:  Saturday June 24, 2017.CANCELED due to weather related problems. 


Watch this space in the 48 hours preceding the event. If anything should happen (such as illness, or a hurricane, God forbid) to cause cancellation, we will notify you HERE. 

For more information about events, call 281-421-2469 or email pollytx1@gmail.com.


Big Thicket Association
Big Thicket National Preserve

Butterfly Enthusiasts of East Texas

Native Plant Society of Texas

Gulf States Mycological Society, Inc.


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