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Guangzhou botanists rediscovers rare plant
Update: 2019-03-01     Source: chinadaily.com.cn

A group of botanists from the South China Botanical Garden of the Chinese Academy of Sciences has recently rediscovered a rare plant species in Conghua district, Guangzhou. The plant was last seen in Guangzhou over 60 years ago.

The Cladopus nymanii is a tiny moss-like plant just millimeters high. It grows on river rocks and blooms in winter. It requires water of a very high quality to survive.

A botanist searches for Cladopus nymanii by a riverside rock. [Photo/Guangzhou Daily]

The specimen of the rare plant, currently housed at the South China Botanical Garden, was collected by a botanist in 1968 in Conghua's Liuxi River.

"Despite its tiny size, the plant is crucial to our research of plant evolution in Guangzhou", said Wang Ruijiang, a botanist from the South China Botanical Garden.

In 2017, Wang's research team carried out a survey on Guangzhou's flora and fauna, performing a comprehensive investigation into all naturally-growing terrestrial plants in Guangzhou. The team recorded over 3,300 species. While combing through the plant archives, researchers stumbled upon a record of Cladopus nymanii, and the mysterious plant inspired everyone's curiosity.

"We really want to find out if Cladopus nymanii still exists in Guangzhou and where it grows," said Zhou Xinxin, a member of the research team.

The research team did a great deal of preparation work, including consulting locals along the Liuxi River in Conghua and conducting meticulous research on their Cladopus nymanii specimen.

Cladopus nymanii under a microscope. [Photo/Guangzhou Daily]

The plant must grow in a particularly suitable environment. We only discovered two small Cladopus nymanii clusters in a long mountain stream, and each is estimated to have only a few hundred Cladopus nymanii plants, according to Wang, who said that the plant is very rare and valuable as it can be seen as an indicator of a healthy environment.

The environment around Liuxi River in Conghua district, Guanghzou. [Photo/Guangzhou Daily]

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