Rare Plant Discovered In ‘Marshy Meadow’

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Communities / Aug. 10, 2017 11:33am EDT


Vermont Fish & Wildlife botanist Everett Marshall documents the extent of winged loosestrife for the state’s Natural Heritage Inventory. (Provided) Vermont Fish & Wildlife botanist Everett Marshall documents the extent of winged loosestrife for the state’s Natural Heritage Inventory. (Provided) Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department botanist, Everett Marshall and his wife, Deb Parrella discovered a flowering plant on a hike at Raven Ridge Natural Area in Monkton that has not been seen in Vermont for decades and was thought to be extirpated, or locally extinct.

Raven Ridge Natural Area is a diverse 365-acre property that is owned by The Nature Conservancy. The plant was found in a wet, marshy meadow that was previously wet pastureland.

The small, purple plant is known as winged loosestrife, or Lythrum alatum. It is closely related to purple loosestrife, which is native to Europe and Asia and is invasive in Vermont.

A small number of winged loosestrife plants were last observed by a botanist in Middlebury in 1979. Prior to that there were only eight records of the plant in the state, the most recent occurring in 1933.

“It’s exciting to see this plant once again recorded in Vermont, and demonstrates why we’re continually working alongside our partners and members of the public to document the diversity of species in the state,” said Marshall.

Marshall’s job with F&W is to maintain the state’s Natural Heritage Inventory, which keeps track of all the known locations of Vermont’s rare, threatened, or endangered species and significant natural communities.

After the sighting, Marshall returned with biologist Dan Farrell from The Nature Conservancy in Vermont to document the extent of the plant’s robust population for the Inventory.

“We are thrilled that Everett and Deb found this plant,” said Rose Paul of The Nature Conservancy. “This highlights the importance of conserving land for biodiversity, and also the value of many people accessing our natural areas throughout the year.”

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