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DNR finds rare, carnivous plant, but other plants are disappearing

English sundew, one of 15 carnivorous plants in Wisconsin, was rediscovered in Ashland County for the first time in 40 years.
English sundew, one of 15 carnivorous plants in Wisconsin, was rediscovered in Ashland County for the first time in 40 years.(RPMP volunteer Dr. Sarah Johnson)
Published: Jul. 22, 2020 at 6:58 AM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The state Department of Natural Resources says volunteers have discovered a rare, carnivorous plant in northern Wisconsin that was last seen four decades ago but failed to find any trace of scores of previously documented rare plants in the state.

The department dispatched 60 volunteers with its Rare Plant Monitoring Program around Wisconsin last year to check on the health and size of rare plant populations. They uncovered English sundew (Drosera anglica), an insect-eating plant, in Ashland County for the first time in 40 years.

The DNR says volunteers reported more than 250 rare plant finds, including 59 populations of rare plants in Wisconsin where they were never documented before.

But another plant, the prairie turnip (Pediomelum esculentum), has dwindled and is now considered imperiled. The legume only grows in high-quality prairies.

And volunteers didn’t find 63 previously documented plant populations. DNR officials said some of those populations may have disappeared temporarily since water levels on many lakes around the state are at their highest level in decades and may have submerged the vegetation. Other species may have simply vanished as part of a global trend in biodiversity loss.

The department said it has been working to reverse those trends with projects that include growing plants in nurseries to reintroduce to the wild and storing seeds from some of the state’s rarest plants.

Wisconsin has 2,366 native plant species, with 344, or 14.5%, considered rare.

Copyright 2020 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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