This plant was thought to be extinct until it was rediscovered in a crater in Hawaii


By Zoe Sottile, CNN

(CNN) – A rare plant thought to be extinct in the wild was discovered in a crater in Hawaii.

The tiny population of Delissea argutidentata was discovered in March 2021, according to a joint press release Kamehameha Schools, the Hawaii Department of Lands and Natural Resources, and the nonprofit Tri-Mountain Alliance released Monday.

Three separate Delissa plants were found in a crater on land belonging to the school system on the island of Hawaii, the statement said. The exact location where the extremely rare plants were found is being kept secret to protect the species. A protective fence has also been installed to ensure their safety.

The newly discovered plants are already being used to help replenish their species, according to the statement. Seeds were collected from the three plants in the crater, which grew into 30 seedlings.

The school system’s natural resources officer, Amber N?maka Whitehead, called the discovery “a first step toward a much greater focus on rare species recovery,” in the statement.

“We need both: healthy native ecosystems and each of our rare species. They are critically important to our Hawaiian cultural identity, and to our health and well-being as a people,” he said. she continued.

Delissea argutidentata has a long, unbranched trunk, which can reach a height of 35 feet, the release explains.

The plant was last seen in the area in the early 1970s, according to the statement. In 1992, a single plant was found, but it died in 2002. Since then, the plant was considered extinct in the wild.

Colleen Cole, coordinator of the Three Mountain Alliance, an organization dedicated to managing the watersheds of the Mauna Loa, K?lauea and Hual?lai mountains, called the detection of the three plants “an important message of hope.”

“In Hawaii, the focus is often on loss – the loss of species, of forests, of sacred places – and maybe that’s human nature, but the Delissea reminds us to always nurture and make room for hope and discovery,” Cole said in the Release. “It was such an inspiring event that we can now reintroduce this plant in large numbers to its former range, reminding us to remain hopeful and vigilant.”

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