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Rare Flower Rediscovered in Maryland After 112 Years

Botany experts are saying that a rare flower in Maryland has been “rediscovered” after disappearing for 112 years.

Photo credit: Justus Nussbaum
Photo credit: Justus Nussbaum

According to the Washington Post, a botanist discovered the flower — the riverbank goldenrod — in Montgomery County, 112 years after it was last seen in Maryland.

Although the riverbank goldenrod is fairly old, it’s far from being the only flower with ancient roots. Many common flowers date back hundreds, if not thousands, of years.

Still, finding the riverbank goldenrod, which is officially known as the Solidago rupestris, was a big moment for botanists in Maryland. Although it grows in Virginia, it hasn’t been spotted in Maryland since 1903.

According to Patch, the botanist who discovered the flower was Wes Knapp, an ecologist at the Department of Natural Resources Wildlife and Heritage Service.

Knapp explained that he began looking for the flower in 2014, but it wasn’t until this past fall that he and his team of researchers were able to find the flower. It is a perennial flower of the sunflower family and it blooms in the fall along riverbanks — which often flood and destroy the plant before ecologists get a chance to find it. Having seen the riverbank goldenrod in Virginia, Knapp narrowed down a specific region along Olmstead and Bear Islands, just west of Bethesda.

Botanists say that the flower is not endangered globally but that it is not often seen along the East Coast of the United States anymore. Knapp’s team found a small patch of around 50 goldenrods near Carderock, and he said it’s possible that the flowers have been there all along.

“I knew the habitat and where to look and when to look,” Knapp explained when officials from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources made the announcement on Wednesday, March 9. The Department consulted an expert on goldenrods for confirmation before releasing a statement.

“It wasn’t a guarantee we would find it. But I’m really happy we did.”

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