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ECCo plans Thismia Hunt 2011: Celebrating 20 Years of Conservation in Calumet for August 13, 2011

On August 13, 2011 the Field Museum and partners will be gathering volunteer botanists and community members for a botanical foray and search for Thismia americana, a rare and elusive plant known only from the Calumet region. The plant was documented and described by University of Chicago graduate student, Norma Pfeiffer, in 1914. The small saprophytic plant, whose closest living relatives are known from Tasmania and New Zealand, has not been seen since 1916.  The type specimen, or specimen selected to serve as a permanent reference for a named species, is one of the Field Museum Botany Department's approximately 33,700 vascular plant type specimens.

In the early 1990s teams of volunteers organized several “Thismia Hunts” to search for the plant. Although these organized searches did not find Thismia americana, they were successful in garnering regional attention to the important biological diversity of the Calumet region. “Thismia Hunt 2011” will honor the many conservation accomplishments made in the region in the last 20 years: including over 1500 acres of natural areas that have been either protected, dedicated as nature preserve, and/or restored since the first “Thismia Hunt”.  Additionally, we hope to document regional biodiversity; activate scientific interest in Calumet, foster a sense of regional identity; and bring people together to have fun and celebrate our region’s unique natural history.  

We are looking for lead botanists, survey volunteers of various botanical skill levels, and volunteers to serve on the post-survey party committee. 

Individuals interested in learning more and registering for Thismia Hunt 2011, please visit: http://tinyurl.com/thismiahunt.

Photo: Rebecca Schillo