delware environmental institute

Plant protection: UD grad student, local botanic gardens work to protect threatened plant species

Plant protection: UD grad student, local botanic gardens work to protect threatened plant species

Last spring, Raakel Toppila trekked through Atlanta’s Stone Mountain Park and other wooded areas in Georgia and Alabama, collecting leaf samples from the Georgia oak, a scrappy little tree that grows on granite and sandstone outcroppings. A student in the University of Delaware’s Longwood Graduate Program, Toppila’s intent was to discover how each leaf -- and the particular oak population that it came from -- differed in its DNA make-up.

Armed with this information, Toppila says that botanic gardens and other natural areas will be able to better protect and revitalize the Georgia oak, which is listed as threatened by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.