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Gone For a Century, Plant Comes Back to Life After Work on a Pond Stirs Up Hidden Seed


A rare plant ‘rose from the dead’ and was recently found in a Norfolk ‘ghost pond’, becoming the first sight in a century.

Rob peacock

Happened by an erratic geography teacher, its existence could lead to the rediscovery of other hidden plants lost in recent English history, and gives conservation botanists hope.

The plant, known as a grass-poly and with pinkish-white petals, was found growing in an old farmland pond in the English Norfolk countryside. When Professor Carl Sayer found it, he took a photo and sent it to his friend, a local botanist named Dr. Jo Parmenter, who confirmed its rarity.

“I never expected to see him in Norfolk; it was quite extraordinary, ”said Dr. Jo, according to the BBC. “I saw a photo and immediately thought, I know what you are.”

Found only in ponds on muddy soil in isolated parts of the UK, this was the first sighting of the plant in Norfolk County in over 100 years, and scientists concluded that the seeds must have lain dormant for more than a century earlier. of the restoration. The work in the pond created the soil conditions that allowed the seed to finally germinate.

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Sure enough, “coming back from the dead,” nearby willows were uprooted to help restore the pond before sunlight could penetrate deep enough to reach the seed.

Conservation botany

When people think of an endangered species, they often imagine iconic animals like the tiger, panda, or rhinoceros. But nevertheless, plants may also be in danger, and grass-poly is certainly among them.

Professor sayer, part of the Pond Restoration Research Group at University College London, imagines that if Norfolk’s thousands of wild ponds can be restored, more “missing, presumed dead” species could emerge.

“There’s no oxygen, it’s very dark, and it’s perfect for conserving seeds,” Sayer says, referring to the muddy banks of an average pond.

While they often appear as nothing more than a mud pit, ponds can act as hubs in a local ecosystem. In Norfolk, many of the ponds are known as “ghost ponds”, and have little environmental value in their current degraded state.

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However, in both the United States and in England, river and pond restoration is becoming a more active form of conservation, due to the key aspect of ponds and rivers to local wildlife.

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