A decade ago, the Quercus Tardifolia oak tree was declared extinct. But last year, Michael Easton, a scientist with the San Antonio Botanical Garden’s Rare Plants and Conservation program, found a pair of them in the West Texas mountains. “This species is one of those sort of relic species of millennia ago, whenever the climate here was much wetter and cooler. And so the only places it can really survive out here in West Texas is higher elevations, where it is wetter and cooler,” said Easton. Scientists were elated to find the tree still in existence in Big Bend National Park in a recent plant survey. There are a few more on private land outside the national park. Recognizing that they can’t fight nature, they will take cuttings and try to grow more of the species in botanical gardens or arboreta instead of trying to grow more of the trees in Big Bend.

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