Twitter Connection Leads to Discovery of New Populations of Rare Plants

From hanging off of cliffsides to making unexpected discoveries on Twitter, the life of a botanist is never boring. At least, not for Assistant Professor of Biology Jason Cantley, a co-author on a paper published in Phytokeys this week detailing the discovery of a new population of a rare plant in Pennsylvania.

Initially, Cantley’s team was rappelling the Pennsylvanian cliffside to survey for golden corydalis, a plant known to the area but not recorded there in decades. Along the way, his collaborator Chris Martine tweeted a picture of a bumblebee sitting on an unassuming plant – which his colleague at the Florida Museum of Natural History Ryan Folk saw on Twitter and recognized as Heuchera alba, a rare species never before recorded in the state. That prompted the team to take a closer look at the area. They found the same species in seven other locations nearby, numbering between 250 and 1000 individuals in total.

To learn more about the project you can watch this Youtube video highlighting the discovery, part of the series “Plants are Cool, Too!”