Extinct red oak found in Texas

(ORDO NEWS) — American botanists accidentally found out that a tree grows in one of the Texas national parks, which belongs to an ultra-rare species of red oaks, whose representatives, presumably, completely disappeared at the turn of the century. This was announced on Thursday by the press service of the Chicago Morton Arboretum.

“The search for and rescue of rare endangered tree species is extremely important to protect the biodiversity of the Earth.

The disappearance of this species of oaks and other similar trees will trigger an ecological “domino effect”, which will lead to the extinction of countless other species of living beings whose life was supported by the disappeared trees, “said Vice-President of the Morton Arboretum (USA) Murphy Westwood, whose words are quoted by the press service of the organization.

Red oaks are common broad-leaved trees found in most eastern regions of North America.

One of the rarest red oak species, Quercus tardifolia, grew in the mountainous regions of the southeastern United States.

It was first described by botanists in 1936, and by the turn of the century, it is believed to have completely disappeared from the face of the Earth. According to environmentalists, the last known tree of this red oak species died in 2011.

Saving Endangered Species

At the end of May of this year, as noted in the message, employees of the Big Bend National Park, located in south Texas near the border with Mexico, randomly discovered that so far the only representative of this species grows on its territory.

It was discovered in the course of studying the effects of fires and droughts, regularly affecting the southeastern United States in the past few years.

This tree, according to botanists from the Morton Arboretum, is in very poor condition. It is affected by a fungal infection, and its trunk was partially burned during one of the spontaneous fires.

Now scientists and national park staff are working to protect the oak tree from further fires, and are also working on possible plans to save it.

To do this, the arboretum specialists collected samples of DNA and oak tissues. Their study, scientists hope, will help them understand whether the discovered tree is a hybrid and whether it is predisposed to the development of various fungal and bacterial diseases that affect red oaks.

In addition, botanists are now working on plans to propagate the oak, and they are especially concerned that the oak does not produce acorns.

This will potentially complicate the preparation of new seedlings of Quercus tardifolia and may force scientists to use the branches of this oak tree as grafts to the trunks of other trees to save this species of flora from extinction.

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