Good News, Bad News For Wisconsin's Rare Plants

May 1, 2018

Dayflower
Credit Wisconsin DNR Josh Mayer

A rare, beautiful blue bloom last reported in Boscobe in 1884, a tripling in the number of rare plant populations checked on, and a decline in statewide populations of the delicate lady's slipper orchid are among discoveries made by volunteers and shared in the recently released Rare Plant Monitoring Program report by the DNR.

DNR botanist Kevin Doyle says the keep a database of rare plants and animals.

He says Wisconsin has 5,000 reported populations of Wisconsin's rarest plants. About 14 percent of the species are endangered, threatened or special concern, meaning their populations are low or declining. He outlines just how rare some of the plant species are... 

"...I think about 100 of the 322 have five or fewer populations. Two of those 322 species are endemic to Wisconsin, meaning they're found here and nowhere else. We have six federally-listed species meaning they are rare not just in Wisconsin but globally as well..."

One plant of concern was the white lady's slipper which is showing a population decline. Another volunteer, however, found a population of narrow-leaved dayflower, a plant last reported from the Boscobel area in 1884.

There are fewer than 10 populations of the species in Wisconsin. He says while 2018 trainings for citizen scientists have concluded, they will again accept volunteers to be trained prior to the 2019 check.

Volunteers are sent out to check on the rare plant population. The program started in 2013, but last year the program had grown to reveal three times the reports of prior years. More information is on the DNR website under Rare Plant Monitoring Program.