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Botanists in Vermont rediscovered a plant last seen there at the start of WW1


Botanists in Vermont have rediscovered a plant last seen there at the start of World War I. It's called the false mermaid-weed.

GRACE GLYNN: Kind of an enchanting name.

FADEL: That's Grace Glynn.

GLYNN: I'm state botanist for the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department. My job is mostly the mapping, inventorying and conservation of rare and uncommon plants in Vermont.


Glynn wasn't the person who first saw the plant - its scientific name is Floerkea - but she did identify it from a picture another scientist sent her. That scientist was excited about another extremely rare plant in Vermont - wild meadow garlic.

FADEL: But when Glynn saw the picture, something else caught her eye - the false mermaid-weed.

GLYNN: And the Floerkea was essentially photobombing the wild garlic.

FADEL: It was a different shade of green, and...

GLYNN: As I was zooming in, I knew that it was Floerkea , but I just didn't allow myself to believe it because it seemed just so unbelievable.

MARTIN: Now, discovering a plant is one thing. Now, Glynn says, the important thing is making sure the false mermaid-weed sticks around. Luckily, it seems to be thriving, and part of the habitat is on protected land.

FADEL: But the plant does rely on water from a river nearby that needs to be conserved.

GLYNN: Letting the river do what it wants to do is really one of the best things that I think we can do for this species.

FADEL: And Glynn says they need more people out there looking at plants.

GLYNN: I just want to emphasize how important having keen-eyed naturalists on the ground is. A lot of our rediscoveries of state historic species come from enthusiasts or community scientists who are just noticing things when they're out in the woods that look different. And you never know - it could end up being a species that hasn't been seen in over 100 years.

MARTIN: Another reminder of why Mom was right when she said, go outside and get some fresh air.

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