DNR discovers new populations of rare plants

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DNR discovers new populations of rare plants

Eastern prairie fringed orchid. Photo courtesy of Josh Mayer.

(WFRV) – New populations of Wisconsin’s rarest plants were discovered by trained volunteers for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Rare Plant Monitoring Program.

Some of the discoveries included orchids and milkweeds and were featured in the 2020 annual report.

The discoveries included:

  • A new population of calypso orchid, a state threatened plant, found in a white cedar swamp near Crandon. Fewer than five calypso populations remain in Wisconsin.
  • The return of the federally threatened eastern prairie white fringed orchid to a site where it had not been seen in six years.
  • New populations of the state-endangered purple milkweed were found in Kenosha County and at two other sites in western Wisconsin.

“Our volunteers provide a huge amount of data that allows us to keep tabs on more rare plant populations than we would otherwise be able to,” says DNR Rare Plant Monitoring Program Coordinator Kevin Doyle.

According to the DNR, over 14% of Wisconsin’s 2,366 native plant species are considered rare, which means they are listed as endangered, threatened or special concern.

More than 50 trained volunteers were sent to locations around the state last year and submitted 265 reports of rare plants they found, including 58 populations in areas of Wisconsin where they have not been documented before.

More information on how to become a Rare Plant Monitor can be found on the DNR’s website.

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