SAN FRANCISCO, Aug. 16 (UPI) — A flowering bush believed extinct but rediscovered by accident in San Francisco is being considered for classification as endangered, wildlife officials say.
The Franciscan manzanita was thought to be extinct in the wild since 1947, but a San Francisco conservationist spotted the plant in a flash as he drove by San Francisco’s Presidio, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Monday.
Daniel Gluesenkamp, director of habitat restoration at Audubon Canyon Ranch, called the bush — one of only a few manzanita species native to the city — a kind of horticultural “unicorn.”
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has opened a 12-month study to determine whether the plant should be declared endangered. If Arctostaphylos franciscana is so designated, it would qualify for federal conservation funds and anyone who removes or tampers with the plant could face criminal prosecution and fines.
“It’s not every day that we find a species thought to be extinct,” fish and wildlife spokeswoman Sarah Swenty said. “Now we have an opportunity to save the last one remaining and reintroduce it for future generations.”
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