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DNR finds rare plant but other species have vanished

English sundew, one of 15 carnivorous plants in Wisconsin, was re-discovered in Ashland County for the first time in 40 years. English sundew, one of 15 carnivorous plants in Wisconsin, was re-discovered in Ashland County for the first time in 40 years. |  Photo: WI DNR, Courtesy RPMP volunteer Dr. Sarah Johnson

Associated Press and Wisconsin DNR contributed to this report
Created: July 21, 2020 11:38 AM

MADISON, Wis. - The Wisconsin 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.  

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The department dispatched 60 volunteers with its Rare Plant Monitoring Program around Wisconsin last year to check on rare plant populations. The group submitted 250 reports of rare plants they found, including 59 populations in areas of Wisconsin where they have not been documented before. Their discoveries are featured in the program’s recently released annual report.

“This is the most productive year we’ve ever had from the standpoint of volunteers finding rare plants in new locations,” Kevin Doyle, a DNR Natural Heritage Conservation botanist who coordinates the program said in a press release. “These new discoveries are very exciting. They help increase our understanding of the number and locations of rare plant species so we can better monitor and protect them.”

The group uncovered English sundew, an insect-eating plant, in Ashland County for the first time in 40 years.  

The Wisconsin DNR says the state has 2,366 native plant species and 344, or 14.5% of the total, are considered rare. This means the plants are listed as endangered, threatened or special concern.

The volunteers did not find 63 previously documented species. DNR officials said some of those populations may have disappeared temporarily. Others may have vanished permanently.

DNR officials say since 2013, the Rare Plant Monitoring Program coordinated by DNR’s Natural Heritage Conservation Program has trained and sent volunteers to check on the health and size of rare native plant populations. They say the volunteer program is the largest source of rare plant data in Wisconsin and unique in the Midwest for its breadth of surveys statewide.

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Associated Press and Wisconsin DNR contributed to this report

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