The plant in question was reportedly identified by researchers during the first few hours of their search effort.
A wildflower thought to have been extinct for several decades has recently been discovered in Ecuador.
According to The Guardian, the flower, Gasteranthus extinctus, was found in the foothills of the Andes and in the “remnant patches of forest” in Ecuador’s Centinela region.
This development comes after deforestation in western Ecuador during the 20th century resulted in a number of plants supposedly going extinct, with the last sighting of Gasteranthus extinctus dating back to about 40 years ago.
Nigel C.A. Pitman, one of the researchers involved in the discovery in question, has described Centinela as a “mythical place for tropical botanists”.
“But because it was described by the top people in the field, no one really double checked the science. No one went back to confirm that the forest was gone and those things were extinct”, he added. “We walked into Centinela thinking it was going to break our heart and instead we ended up falling in love”.
🌸Gasteranthus #extinctus, a small forest floor-dweller with flamboyant neon-orange flowers was unexpectedly rediscovered in an 🇪🇨Ecuadorian primary #rainforest thought to be extinct itself: https://t.co/hPyozLg37v#PlantScience #Botany pic.twitter.com/mwpMkd2PvH
— PhytoKeys (@PhytoKeys) April 15, 2022
The researchers reportedly managed to identify the plant during the first few hours of their search, and they, together with local conservationists, now strive to protect the areas where the flowers live.
“Rediscovering this flower shows that it’s not too late to turn around even the worst-case biodiversity scenarios, and it shows that there’s value in conserving even the smallest, most degraded areas”, said Dawson White, postdoctoral researcher at the Field Museum in Chicago who also participated in the study.