Botanists have discovered a patch of Mount Diablo buckwheat, a species previously thought to be extinct, near Antioch, California.

The pink wildflowers are growing in the 6,000-acre Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve. They’re considered a critically endangered variety. After 69 years of presumed extinction, a small amount was discovered in Mount Diablo State Park in 2005. The discovery of this cluster is a heartening sign for scientists.

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“It’s a really exciting discovery because the previous place where they found this plant was a small location, and the biggest number of plants there on any given year was 100. This is almost 2 million plants. We’re super excited about it,” said Michele Hammond, a botanist with the East Bay Regional Park District.

For the last decade or so, experts have been trying to cultivate the plant by collecting seeds, but this has proved difficult. According to officials, 80,000 seeds were planted in one site on Mount Diablo, but only 200 plants actually grew. They hope this new discovery will help spur reintroduction efforts.

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“The Antioch population is a great discovery. Its habitat is quite different from the 2005 rediscovery site, and provides valuable information for efforts to develop new populations,” said Holly Forbes, curator and conservation officer at the University of California, Berkeley’s Botanical Garden (Peter Fimrite, San Francisco Chronicle, Sept. 8).

Reprinted with permission from E&E Publishing

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