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Field Museum Searches For Mystery Plant

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(credit: Field Museum website)

(credit: Field Museum website)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — The Field Museum is enlisting the help of volunteers to find a rare plant that has only ever been seen in Chicago.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Michele Fiore reports, if you like to dig in the dirt and love a good mystery, the museum hopes you will join the effort.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Michele Fiore reports


Nearly 100 years ago, a species of plant called Thismia americana was discovered on the city’s Southeast Side. The plant has only been found in that section of the city, and nowhere else in the world.

The nearly-translucent plant with its bluish-green flowers was first discovered near 119th Street and Torrence Avenue by a University of Chicago student in 1912. But the plant has not been seen since 1916.

Oddly, scientists determined that the plant is from a tropical family, its closest relative a species that’s native to Tasmania and New Zealand.

Since U of C student Norma Pfeiffer found the plant, the area where it was found has undergone development. So the search will cover a five-mile radius, including the Indiana Dunes.

The starting point will be the William M. Powers State Recreation Area, at 12949 S. Avenue O.

The hunt — organized by conservation groups — will take place Saturday and is open to the public, but participants must register ahead of time.

To register, click here.

The Chicago Sun-Times contributed to this report, via the Sun-Times Media Wire.

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