Searching for Rarities

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By Karen Menard

No doubt there are many rarities that exist in the Metroparks.  From endangered and threatened reptiles and birds, butterfly species of concern, to potentially threatened plants-all are important to keep track of.  Flora and fauna combined, the total number is over 200 species, and that’s a lot to think about!  In fact, Lucas County has the highest rare plant species totals in all of Ohio, and many of these exist in the Metroparks.

Every spring and summer season, Metropark butterfly, bird, dragonfly, and rare plant volunteer monitors and researchers take to the forests and prairies in search of common, locally uncommon and rare species.  Rarities, of course, are always a challenge to locate annually, and it is exciting to see a few new species added to the lists, whether flora or fauna.

Recently, Solidago rigidiuscula, or Slender Showy Goldenrod, was found at Blue Creek Metropark.  This species is listed as endangered in Ohio.  Finding endangered plant species such as this is a testament to the ongoing natural area restoration that is occurring regularly in the Metroparks.  When a rarity occurs in an area that is undergoing or has undergone restoration, it continues to truly reinforce the phrase that, “Restoration is worth the effort.”

Did you know? After testing 17,000 plant species from 1928-1931, Thomas Edison finally found out that native goldenrod species produced the largest amount of naturally occurring latex.  He was looking to find a way to produce rubber for automobile tires within the United States.