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Botanists play matchmakers for rare sumac

16 February 2010

A recently published news article tells the fantastic story of how the Georgia Plant Conservation Alliance, including BGCI member gardens Atlanta Botanical Garden and the State Botanical Garden of Georgia, are working creatively to conserve Rhus michauxii, a rare plant found in the Southeastern United States:

Botanists play the mating game with dwarf sumac

Article published by Lee Shearer,, on Monday, February 15, 2010

ELBERTON, GA - A little-known Georgia plant is living out its own version of the classical romance of Odysseus and Penelope - lovers separated for 20 years by war and Odysseus' questing while Penelope waited patiently for the Greek hero to come home.

But the boys and girls of the dwarf sumac species have been waiting even longer for each other's company - possibly a century or more.

Never very abundant, the inconspicuous little plants exist in just three states: Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia.

And in Georgia, the dwarf sumac had dwindled to just two populations in the 20th century - a group with female flowers that lives under a Newton County water tower, and a group of male-flowering plants on a secluded bluff about 80 miles away above the Broad River in Elbert County, said Mincy Moffett, a botanist with the state Department of Natural Resources' nongame conservation section.

But now romance may blossom at last between the male and female sumacs - with a little help from a band of dedicated plant conservationists.

For the rest of the article and photos, see



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