All About Richland

Four ‘Lost’ Ohio Plant Species Rediscovered

10 Jan , 2020  

Ohio botanists found four plant species in 2019 that had not been seen in Ohio for decades and, in one case, more than a century, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Natural Areas and Preserves (DNAP).

“Ohio’s natural diversity continues to educate, inspire, and surprise us,” said Gov. Mike DeWine. “These discoveries are an exciting development for the future of conservation in our state.”

The following four species had been presumed extirpated in Ohio, meaning a naturally occurring population had not been observed in more than 20 years:

  • The black-stemmed spleenwort (Asplenium resiliens), last seen in Ohio in 1900, was found in Adams County in May;
  • The American cuckoo-flower (Cardamine pratensis var. palustris), last seen in Ohio in the early 1990s, was found in Summit County in May;
  • Vasey’s pondweed (Potamogeton vaseyi), last seen in Ohio in 1935, was found in Lorain County in June; and
  • The water marigold (Bidens beckii), last seen in Ohio in the 1930s, was found in Portage County in September.

“Finding even one such species in any given year is impressive but finding four is almost unheard of,” said DNAP Chief Botanist Rick Gardner. “The Division of Natural Areas and preserves has been reporting yearly ‘best finds’ for more than 30 years and 2019 is one of the best years ever.”

Other notable highlights from an exciting field season for Ohio’s botanists included adding a new native species to the state’s flora with the discovery of prune-fruited sedge (Carex corrugata) in Adams County and finding significant new populations for more than a dozen endangered and threatened species, such as spreading rock cress (Arabis patens), rock spike-moss (Selaginella rupestris), Willdenow’s croton (Croton willdenowii), Colville’s scorpion-weed (Phacelia colvillei) and rose twisted-stalk (Streptopus lanceolatus).

“This was an outstanding year for Ohio’s botanical community,” said ODNR Director Mary Mertz. “We are fortunate to have such knowledgeable botanists in our state finding these rare gems, and I look forward to seeing more great work in 2020.”

Richland County and its spectacular setting is no stranger to rare plants. Several spotted here fit into the category of  potentially threatened, threatened, or actually endangered. A list can be found here.

These surprising finds show that there are still important discoveries to be made throughout Ohio’s landscapes and communities. For more information about Ohio’s rare plants, please visit naturepreserves.ohiodnr.gov/rareplants.

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