This wildflower only grows in 3 counties, for a few weeks a year – now is its time

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Sure, lots of us tend to stay close to home ... but here's a wildflower that takes that to an extreme.

The Minnesota dwarf trout lily is found in three southeastern Minnesota counties. And nowhere else.

The Kenyon Leader alerts us that we are now in the few weeks of the year when this rare wildflower can be seen in bloom – if you're in the right place.

And that place is an area that covers less than 600 acres in Goodhue, Rice, and Steele Counties.

The Fish & Wildlife Service has a page with lots of details about this endangered species.

It grows in the woods on slopes or floodplains but blossoms in the spring – before the trees have their leaves. By the time the forest is shady, the dwarf trout lily will have closed up shop for the year and will be gearing up for another annual appearance next spring.

With a natural range so tiny, the threat of extinction is real. It could come in the form of a housing development, cropland expansion, or an invasive plant.

But the Fish & Wildlife Service says about half of the sites where the dwarf trout lily is known to grow are in parks or nature areas. The Nature Conservancy says one of its preserves near Big Woods State Park is home to the largest population.

While the flower only occurs naturally in the aforementioned three counties, the Minnesota Wildflower website notes that dwarf trout lilies have been transplanted into the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden in Minneapolis and the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.

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