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This Type Of Wildflowers Are So Unique That Botanists Are Keeping Their Location A Secret

Botanists in California have just declared that they have found a half-acre, 1.8 million-plant gathering of Mount Diablo buckwheat (Eriogonum truncatum), a pink flower that, until 2005, was believed to be vanished for the past 70 years. The team of botanists is calling it the discovery of the 'Holy Grail' of botany, and have declined to expose the particular location of the flowers, out of fear that climbers and tourists would assemble to the patch.

A botanist from the East Bay Regional Park District, Michele Hammond, told Peter Fimrite from SF Chronicle, "It is a really thrilling discovery, because the earlier place where they discovered this plant was a small location, and the largest number of plants there on any known year was 100. This is nearly 2 million plants. We are super happy about it."

While the particular location remains a top-secret, East Bay Regional Park District representatives said that the exceptionally rare flowers were discovered by two botanists from ecology checking firm, Nomad Ecology, on the 6,096-acre Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve in Antioch, California.

The flowers are pink and round, like colorful cotton balls. Ecologist Heath Bartosh, one of the teams behind the discovery , told SF Chronicle, "I had, in my opinion, hoped to discover this thing for so many years, and then all of a sudden I walk up to this population that was so many.  It was like, wait a minute, this cannot be real. Am I dreaming?"

So why is this such a great discovery?

Well, mostly because many scientists have supposed that the flower,  which was initially discovered near Brentwood, California back in 1862,  vanished, until a very small area holding approximately 20 plants was discovered back in 2005 by a grad student hiking through Mount Diablo State Park. Before discovering it again in 2005, no one had seen the plant since 1936. In the years revising the small discovery, researchers have tried to acquire the flower’s population to rebound by planting up 80,000 seeds in different areas. Even with planting so many seeds, though, nearly about 200 plants took root and will grow. Now, with such a big number just discovered growing on their own in the wild, the team hopes to better study how the flower grows and what they need to grow.

Holly Forbes, from the University of California’s Botanical Garden, told SF Chronicle, "The Antioch population is an extremely great discovery. Its environment is relatively different from the 2005 rediscovery place and provides respected information for efforts to grow new populations". Forbes was not involved in the new discovery. While the recently found patch is certainly a good sign for Mount Diablo buckwheat, scientists’ restraint that the populations are still very much in danger of extinction, because they are situated in areas that suffer wildfires. Due of this, the team says that suitable protection, such as keeping the location secret and harmless, is more important, or the flowers might vanish again before someone gets a chance to study them correctly.

Hammond said, "This is the ultimate discovery in uncommon plant treasure hunt.  I love sighted the crazy variety of flowers in California. If we do not guard them, one by one these types of unique flowers are going to end and we will lose the fun of hiking through an area and sighting different flowers."

Confidently, after more study is carried out, botanists will know how to keep the flowers well growing in the wild for many years to come, although it likely would not be easy.


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