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DNR protecting rare dwarf trout lily in southern Minnesota

The rare and endangered dwarf trout lily is found in only three Minnesota counties, reports the Owatonna People’s Press, and now the state DNR is working to protect a stretch along the Straight River in Clinton Falls Township.

The state agency wants to buy the 21-acre site, which has the highest concentration of the flowers, and Steele County commissioners are considering the plan. The DNR would like to make the Clinton Falls area into a scientific and natural area, which restricts some activities, but it would still make it open to the public for observation, hiking and some educational visits — all activities that would not disturb the natural conditions, the paper said.

The plant is also found in Rice and Goodhue counties but apparently nowhere else in the world. Says the paper:

The lily is believed to be a mutation of the white trout lily. A teacher at St. Mary’s School (now Shattuck-St. Mary’s) in Faribault discovered the flower, and it was first listed as a species in 1871 and placed on the federal list of endangered plant species.

The dwarf trout lily is rare mostly due to its unusual reproduction mode. It almost never produces seed. Instead, it grows from an underground bulb that renews itself annually. Occasionally, the underground stem of a flowering plant can produce a single offshoot of a new bulb. Forty-two percent of known populations occur in floodplains that may be prone to occasional flooding.

Dwarf trout lilies generally flower once a year in early spring.

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