Celebrating the captivating allure of wild orchids, the U.S. Postal Service proudly presents the Wild Orchids Forever stamps. Showcasing the vibrant beauty of these extraordinary flowers, this stamp collection pays homage to the largest plant family on Earth, known for its ability to thrive in diverse climates and conditions.
The dedication ceremony took place at the esteemed American Orchid Society Library, situated within the enchanting Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables, FL. Art director Ethel Kessler skillfully designed the stamps, featuring stunning photographs captured by James A. Fowler.
Recognizing the significance of conservation efforts in preserving these exquisite blooms, Jakki Krage Strako, the Chief Customer and Marketing Officer and Executive Vice President of the U.S. Postal Service served as the dedicated official for the event. Strako emphasized the stamps’ portrayal of nature’s masterpieces, blooming with an array of colors, while upholding the Postal Service’s tradition of showcasing the natural beauty of flowers.
Accompanying Strako at the dedication were notable individuals including Georgia Tasker, an author and Pulitzer Prize finalist in horticulture writing; Susan Wedegaertner, President of the American Orchid Society; James A. Fowler, the photographer behind the captivating images; and Lawrence Zettler, Director of the orchid recovery program at Illinois College.
Zettler highlighted the significance of orchids as the world’s most recognizable flowers, with the stamps showcasing nine of the over 200 orchid species native to the United States. The stamps serve as a reminder of their beauty and vulnerability, drawing attention to their preservation needs.
Each stamp portrays a photograph of one of the nine featured species, including Cypripedium californicum, Hexalectris spicata, Cypripedium reginae, Spiranthes odorata, Triphora trianthophoros, Platanthera grandiflora, Cyrtopodium polyphyllum, Calopogon tuberosus, and Platanthera leucophaea. The booklet consists of 10 stamp designs, with each design featured twice for a total of 20 stamps. Notably, Triphora tranthophoros is showcased on two stamp designs, including the booklet cover.
In addition to the booklet, the Wild Orchids stamps will also be available in coils of 3,000 and 10,000. With over 30,000 species of wild orchids worldwide, it is disheartening that many native North American orchids are endangered or threatened, leading to their increasingly rare sightings in their natural habitats.
These striking flowers flourish in damp woodlands, and numerous organizations across the country are devoted to preserving orchid habitats. Orchids also thrive in cultivated gardens and serve as delightful houseplants, bringing their unique charm to indoor spaces.
James A. Fowler, the photographer behind the stamps, expressed his joy at the convergence of his passions for photographing wild orchids and stamp collecting. He acknowledged the influence of his mother, an accomplished photographer, and his great-grandmother, a botanist at the Department of Agriculture, in nurturing his love for photography and the beauty of plants. His stamp collecting hobby was inspired by his older brother.
The Wild Orchids stamps are Forever stamps, ensuring that their value will always be equivalent to the current First-Class Mail 1-ounce price, allowing their timeless beauty to be shared on correspondence for years to come.