COLUMBUS – 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 2019.
– The American cuckoo-flower (Cardamine pratensis var. palustris), last seen in Ohio in the early 1990s, was found in Summit County in May 2019.
– Vasey’s pondweed (Potamogeton vaseyi), last seen in Ohio in 1935, was found in Lorain County in June 2019.
– The water marigold (Bidens beckii), last seen in Ohio in the 1930s, was found in Portage County in September 2019.
“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 2019 Ohio discoveries
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.”
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, visit naturepreserves.ohiodnr.gov/rareplants.
The Division of Natural Areas and Preserves administers Ohio’s rare plant list, which currently contains over 600 species. Ohioans can donate all or part of their state income tax return to support DNAP’s efforts in inventorying and monitoring these rare plants as well as enhancing and restoring habitat. For more information on how to make a tax return donation, visit naturepreserves.ohiodnr.gov/support. Contributions can also be made year-round via check sent to the ODNR Division of Natural Areas and Preserves, 2045 Morse Road, Building A-2, Columbus, OH 43229.