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September 10, 2012

Rediscovered Bay Area Plant

One of San Francisco's most important biological discoveries -- a single Franciscan manzanita plant found in 2009 after the species was presumed extinct in the wild for six decades -- will gain Endangered Species Act protection, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced on Tuesday. The Service is also proposing to protect more than 300 acres of critical habitat for the plant, in 11 different areas of the city, to aid recovery and reintroduction.

The previous last-known wild specimens of San Francisco's namesake manzanita had been rescued by heroic botanists for nursery cultivation in 1947, just before bulldozers destroyed their last habitat.

With its new federal protection, the manzanita, which has small, oval leaves and bulbous flowers, finally has a shot at survival and even recovery.

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