Alabama teacher identifies new plant species after ‘trying for years’ to find one, names it after late mother

Alabama News
October 02 2021 06:00 pm

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — While hiking and searching for an already discovered flower near Lake Guntersville, science teacher and amateur botanist Brian Finzel instead stumbled upon a flower he’d never seen before.

The plant itself was just off the trail and was likely seen by other people before Finzel, but something unique caught his eye.

Finzel’s Ginger

“About a mile and a half down the trail, I saw this plant that I knew was a ginger. But when I actually saw the flowers of it, I said, ‘uh, those are not the flowers of any other ginger I’ve ever seen,'” said Finzel.

Finzel’s Ginger discovered near Lake Guntersville

Upon closer inspection, Finzel knew he had to take pictures and send them to a friend who is also a professional botanist.

Pretty quickly, Finzel got life-changing news. Finzel had in fact found a never-before-documented plant which is also on Tennessee Valley Authority land, meaning, it could potentially become a federally endangered species.

“This is the event of a lifetime. I had been trying for years to document a new species for the state, much less find something that’s new for the world,” said Finzel.

Every year, roughly 2,000 plant species are discovered around the world. The discoveries typically come from Brazil, China and Australia.

Brian Finzel sharing a special moment with friends.

The rare discovery has been published in the Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas.

As for Finzel, he named the plant Finzel’s Ginger. Not after himself, but for the woman who gave him life.

“Five months before I found this plant. My mom passed away. I think in a way she guided me there. What’s ironic is her name is Ginger,” said Finzel.

There are other ginger plants located across Alabama. One such plant is typically only found near Montgomery. Finzel’s Ginger has not been categorized anywhere else outside of a small area near Lake Guntersville.


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