HILL COUNTRY, Texas (KXAN) - "There's a tiny little one right here, in fact we're going to put some water right here," said Walter Stewart. "I think we can pop this thing out with a shovel."
He had just heard about a possible rare plant found along County Road 220.
Stewart rushed to check it out and discovered a "sunflower-looking" plant referred to as "silphium laciniatum" or compass plant, first time it has ever been seen in Hays County.
"This is an incredibly rare plant. This plant is a Hill Country plant that once probably was common but is now incredibly rare in the Hill Country, and to find a stand of these plants growing by the side of the road -- it's like -- it's amazing," he said.
With the excitement of a child playing with a new toy, Stewart quickly got on the horn and started rounding up help to save the plant from extinction.
"The county commissioner came out and said, 'Hey, I've lived here all my life, I've never seen this plant, I want to see it,'" said Stewart's wife, Mary Smith. "So Walter showed it to him and he got so excited about it that he gave the guys permission to help us on this."
She's referring to a small road crew, including a water truck and a backhoe, who came out to help dig up the plants. They put them into temporary pots so they can be taken to a nursery.
There are only about 40 plants spread out over a 150-foot area but it's still going to take a few days to finish the project.
Stewart was pleased to have gotten so much help from the county.
"Hays County has been incredibly generous and this road crew here is working to save these plants," he said. "They've recognized the value of this. They have to do this in order to widen the road but they're saying go for it
get these plants."
Stewart hopes the community sees the value of saving what he calls an important part of the Hill Country's wild life.
"What we want to do is have the seeds so that we can give it to people and say, 'Here, grow this plant, grow it in your garden, grow it in your restoration.' If we get blooms like these in the nursery, we'll have it made."
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