Many unusual plants found thriving in Ohio in 2002

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COLUMBUS – A salt-loving seaside bulrush and a tiny, shade-seeking fern were among the 21 rare and unusual plants discovered in Ohio this year, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

The discoveries are attributed to Ohio’s growing legion of professional and amateur botanists who are on the lookout for endangered plants.

Undetected. Botanist Jim McCormac said these plants were out there, but for various reasons went undetected.

McCormac himself spotted two small colonies of Olney’s three-square bulrush in September at Cedar Point National Wildlife Refuge in Lucas County, Ohio.

Normally found only in salt water, the tall, reed-like plant is rare anywhere in the Great Lakes region.

This year marked its first recorded appearance in Ohio.

The bulrush stands about 3 feet high, with a pod of flowers and seeds perched atop a leafless stem.

Grape fern. Professor Warren Hauk and a group of students from Denison University struck botanical gold in the Hocking Hills region in May with the discovery of triangle grape fern growing in deep shade near Cantwell Cliffs.

Seen only one other time in Ohio in recent decades, the spindly green fern grows just a few inches high and has only one tiny leaf.

The obscure little plant is easily overlooked and best spotted in spring and summer when it bears clusters of luminescent yellow spores that appear to glow in shaded areas.

Wal-Mart annuals. Two endangered wetland annuals were found flourishing on a 15-acre site near a new Wal-Mart store in Chillicothe, Ohio.

McCormac said that excavation for a retention pond at the construction site disturbed long-dormant seedbeds that sprang to life when exposed to sun and moisture.

Mark Dilley, environmental consultant, found more than 10,000 bur-head growing in the area.

The plant, which migrated north along Ohio’s major rivers, is known to grow in only two other places in the state.

Umbrella-sedge. Dilley also discovered endangered pale umbrella-sedge at the site. The plant was previously known at only three other locations. Now the local park district is taking steps to preserve the area with the help of Wal-Mart.

A population of one of Ohio’s rarest sedges – swaying bulrush – turned up at Singer Lake in Summit County, Ohio.

The tall, lanky water-lover was previously known to grow only at Mud Lake State Nature Preserve in Williams County, Ohio.

Among others. A stand of endangered Spanish oak trees was also found elsewhere in Scioto County, Ohio.

More than 30 mature trees, some up to 100 feet tall, were found growing in a small woodland. Generally found only in the South, Spanish oaks are at the extreme northern edge of their range in Ohio.

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