Leptinella in bud (supplied)
Two tiny New Zealand herbs previously thought to be extinct in the wild have been rediscovered by eagle-eyed conservation rangers.
Pygmy goosefoot, or Dysphania pusilla, was coincidentally found at two widely separate sites in the South Island over summer, the Department of Conservation says.
The populations at Marlborough’s Molesworth Station and in Canterbury’s McKenzie Basin were in their thousands, despite not being seen for nearly 60 years.
“Botanists believe pygmy goosefoot may lie dormant for many years as seed when conditions aren’t suitable for it to grow,” said DOC director-general Lou Sanson.
“It was fortunate rangers were in the right places at the right time when it had germinated in abundance enabling its rediscovery.”
Another native herb the slender button daisy, or Leptinella filiformis, was also found at Molesworth. It hadn’t been seen growing wild since the late 1990s but is being cultivated at protected sites.
DOC staff are now determining what will be done to learn more about the herb species, the threats they face and what measures may be needed to protect them.