David Remucal is one of the few “plant rescuers” in the state.
Collecting, breeding and salvaging endangered plants around Minnesota and Wisconsin, the University of Minnesota adjunct professor’s role at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is multifaceted. A plant ecologist by training, Remucal’s work now is in protecting some of the most endangered plants in the Upper Midwest.
“Rare plant rescues haven’t really been a thing in Minnesota,” he said. “And so we’re trying to change that.”
In 2013, Remucal founded the Plant Conservation Program at the Arboretum. Fielding calls from the Minnesota and Wisconsin Departments of Natural Resources (DNR), as well as concerned citizens and other municipal governments, his team is called to salvage threatened and endangered plants from various sites around the states. They then collect and save seeds or whole plants at the Arboretum to keep their genetic material alive in case the plants go extinct in the wild.
Because most of Minnesota’s natural landscape has been altered by humans, Remucal said he feels a sense of responsibility to conserve species that are now at risk of extinction.
“Whether a species is rare or not, there’s no reason why it isn’t as valuable as anything else out there,” Remucal said. “If it’s going away, we should try to save it if we can. And that is especially true for anything that we had a hand in causing its rareness.”