Wisconsin family finds rare plant not seen in nearly a century while hiking

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A Wisconsin family found a rare fern that hasn't been documented in the area for more than 90 years.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced in a press release that Ben Redding and his family were out hiking at a state natural area when they unearthed a population of maidenhair spleenwort (Asplenium trichomanes).

Kevin Doyle, DNR Natural Heritage Conservation Botanist and Rare Plant Monitoring Program Coordinator, said:

These discoveries are very exciting. They help increase our understanding of the number and locations of rare plant species to better monitor and protect them. Volunteers also revisit known locations, another super important part of the conservation process. If we don’t check up on these populations, we won’t know when they are in trouble. The information these trained volunteers collect for us is critical for understanding how rare plant populations are doing in Wisconsin and informs our next steps like research projects or management action to sustain these rare plants.

Maidenhair spleenwort is a small fern that can be found growing in tufts on rocks, old walls and mossy branches. While populations of maidenhair spleenwort are scattered throughout the state of Wisconsin, none have been seen in this same location for more than 90 years.

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