Rare Plant Found Where Pines Once Stood

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An Ohio endangered plant, Lipocarpha drummondii, or Drummond’s halfchaff sedge, is growing in an area of Oak Openings Preserve. Botanist Tim Walters spotted the plant emerging from the seed bank in an area where pine trees were recently removed.

The very rare plant only occasionally turns up in the Oak Openings Region in sandy areas with a high water table. Having been buried in the soil under years of pine duff, the plant population was just waiting for sunlight and the right combination of growing conditions.

As these collapsing pine stands planted decades ago reached the end of their natural life, they were removed. As a result, this and other native species can sprout. Research has shown that in areas where pine plantations have been removed, native species have thrived.

In these restoration areas, more state-listed, rare plant species are found than exist in entire counties elsewhere in Ohio. Pine removal areas were surveyed this summer by staff and volunteers for vegetation biodiversity and were found to have over 300 different species of plants already growing within the first season after the removal occurred.

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Photo by Scott Abella