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Plant not seen since 1962 reintroduced in secret location: 'I'm absolutely over the moon'

"The rosy saxifrage is about as a native as you can get in the UK."

"The rosy saxifrage is about as a native as you can get in the UK."

Photo Credit: Plantlife.org

A Great Britain plant that hasn't been seen in the wild since 1962 has been reintroduced in a secret location in Wales. 

A small mountain jewel plant, rosy saxifrage, is listed as extinct. It was last seen in the Cwm Idwal nature reserve in Eryri over 60 years ago. 

According to the Guardian, in 1962, conservationist Dick Roberts was on a trip with his students when he picked up a plant on the Cwm Idwal path. He took it home and planted it in his garden. 

Then, about a decade ago, horticulturist Robbie Blackhall-Miles received a cutting of the plant to care for. 

Now, the rosy saxifrage has been planted in the wild again. Blackhall-Miles said: "The rosy saxifrage is about as a native as you can get in the UK."

He added: "I'm absolutely over the moon."

Saxifrage dates back to the ice age. When the ice melted, the plant thrived in the mountains. 

They were quite popular in the Victorian era when people picked them for their private collections. The foraging led to the plant's extinction. 

The Eryri ranger, Rhys Weldon-Roberts, will watch over the plant to keep it safe from collectors. 

He said, "Hopefully, the day comes when this is no longer rare and everyone who visits will be able to appreciate it." 

The planting of the rosy saxifrage is part of a larger project. Blackhall-Miles is working with National Trust and Natural Resources Wales to reintroduce biodiversity to Britain. 

Blackhall-Miles told the BBC, "If you think about British biodiversity like a jigsaw puzzle — all the pieces are really important, but some are missing."

Plants are an important part of the ecosystem because they provide oxygen and food for humans. They are also a source of food for insects and a place for them to lay their eggs. If one plant becomes extinct, it can cause other organisms that rely on it to become extinct, too. 

Thankfully, there are those, like Blackhall-Miles, who prioritize maintaining this balance and can recognize the importance of keeping these species alive. Similarly in California, conservationists have stepped in to use camels to help preserve the iconic Joshua trees.

Reintroducing the rosy saxifrage to Britain is a huge conservation win for the country. It will help improve the biodiversity and the quality of life for residents and animals. 

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