Mental Floss

Meet the Kankakee Mallow: a Flower Only Found on a Small Island in Illinois

Caitlin Schneider

Few things in life are truly unique, but the Kankakee Mallow (Iliamna remota) flower is truly deserving of the descriptor; it only grows on a 20-acre island in the middle of the Kankakee River in Illinois.

Aside from being endemic to just one small sliver of land, the Kankakee Mallow became even rarer over the last several decades, as invasive species began to take over its turf. Until last year, it had not been seen in the wild in over a decade and was believed to have possibly gone extinct. Then, a community of passionate volunteers decided to step in.

Thanks to Habitat2030 and the Friends of Langham Island, the Kankakee Mallow has reemerged, with hundreds observed on the island in the year since its rescue began. In the video above, Emily Graslie of The Brain Scoop tags along with Robb Telfer of The Field Museum and Trevor Edmonson on a visit to the island to pull weeds and peep at the rare plant in person.

For even more on the Kankakee Mallow, visit In Defense of Plants.

Banner image: YouTube

Know of something you think we should cover? Email us at