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They Were Lost, Now Are Found

While there is plenty of bad news around the world when we talk about the health of plant and animal species — some are endangered, others are pests … some are gone forever — researchers stumbled upon something surprising last year in Ohio.

According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Natural Areas and Preserves, four plant species that had once been considered “lost” in the Buckeye State were discovered again in 2019.

There are more than 80 plant species considered to have been “extirpated” in Ohio, meaning a naturally occurring population has not been seen in at least 20 years. Some of those species have not been seen here for at least 100 years. But, lest you believe that if they have been gone that long, they are gone for good, there is hope.

Among the species found again last year was the black-stemmed spleenwort, a kind of fern not seen in Ohio since 1900. The other three were a couple of aquatic plants — water marigold and Vasey’s pondweed — not seen since the 1930s, and the American cuckoo-flower, which had last been observed in 1991.

Though we may not have solved all our environmental woes just yet, in some place we are making good steps — and the plant life has noticed. If four species have made their way back after being “gone” — in one case, for at least 120 years — that is wonderful news.

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