Arabis patens - spreading rock cress, one of the rarest plants in Ohio, blooms at the OPGC

April 14, 2012

Is Arabis patens the rarest plant in Ohio? On a 24 May 2008 post in his Ohio Birds and Biodiversity blog, Jim McCormac of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources' (ODNR) Division of Wildlife asked this question. He had found only a couple of isolated populations in the shaded calcareous cliffs of Franklin and Delaware counties. The species is a member of the Brassicaceae and like many rock cresses, it produces pretty white flowers in the spring. While it may be debatable whether Arabis patens in the rarest plant in Ohio, it certainly is very rare and threatened because of habitat loss. In collaboration with ODNR, the OPGC has been producing seed of this rare plant with the goal of re-establishing populations in appropriate habitats. This is a significant challenge because the plant's preferred habitats are being degraded and overrun by invasive species. Nevertheless seeds have been produced from plants that originated in the Franklin/Delaware county area and seedlings will eventually be re-introduced into appropriate habitats. Seed production of the plant was achieved by hand-pollination through the efforts of students and staff at the OPGC.