USA: grass, thought extinct, found in California


Dissanthelium californicumFrom the Google cache.

Source: ABC site.

AVALON, Calif. May 31, 2005 — A species of grass not seen since 1912 has been discovered growing on Santa Catalina Island off the Southern California coast, botanists say.

The plant, California dissanthelium, had long been thought extinct until a botanist recently spotted the wispy, 7-inch-tall tufts while hiking in Cottonwood Canyon.

“I saw a little grass, and I thought, ‘Hmm, that doesn’t look familiar,'” said Jenny McCune, an assistant plant ecologist for the Catalina Island Conservancy.

McCune found the grass on March 30 in an area of the canyon hit by fire two years ago. Scientists confirmed the plant’s identity last month.

“It’s quite a thrill to have something you thought was gone forever come back to life again,” said Lyn McAfee, president of the California Native Plant Society‘s Pasadena chapter.

Orange-crowned warblers on Catalina Island: here. And here.

The Catalina island fox is one of six subspecies of Urocyon littoralis that inhabit the Channel Islands off the Southern California coast. Like many island species, island foxes are in trouble. Foxes on Santa Cruz, San Miguel, and Santa Rosa islands have been in decline since the 1990s, mainly due to predation by golden eagles: here.

Catalina’s pint-sized native foxes have recovered from a catastrophic epidemic that nearly wiped out the population 15 years ago: here.

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2 thoughts on “USA: grass, thought extinct, found in California

  1. From Google cache:

    Scientist revives lost plant of old England Linking: 2

    Date: 7/25/05 at 7:28PM (

    Mood: Looking Playing: Snake in the grass

    From The Independent:

    Back from the dead: scientist revives lost plant of old England

    By David Randall

    Published: 24 July 2005

    This is the unlikely story of the native plant that came back from the dead.

    For years it was thought to be extinct in Britain and, since this was the only place in the world it grew, on the rest of the planet, too.

    But thanks to the dedicated work of one extraordinary scientist, it has been saved, nurtured and returned to the wild.

    It is, The Independent on Sunday can reveal, the first extinct plant to be so restored in British conservation history.

    The story would be a true wildlife fairy tale but for one thing: the plant in question is, in appearance, less a princess than an ugly sister.

    It is bromus interruptus, the interrupted brome, a grass, not a fetching flower, and so named because its seeds seem to have been picked away at intervals along the stem.

    It was discovered in 1849, growing as an arable weed in a field in Cambridgeshire, and over the next century or so, it was recorded in southern counties from Kent to Somerset.

    But from the 1930s, as farmers sprayed pesticides and more and more weeds were screened out, it went into steep decline and was last seen, not far from where it was originally found, in 1972. Later, it was duly declared extinct.

    So it might have remained, a kind of green dodo, had a botanist, Philip Smith, not secretly squirreled away some seeds harvested from those last few plants in Cambridge.

    He took them home, grew them on his window sill, and, at a Botanical Society of the British Isles conference in 1979, produced with a flourish a pot of the risen-again bromus interruptus, bringing gasps and requests for seeds all round.

  2. Pingback: Pacific island wildlife comeback | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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