SOS-attempted plant species, 2007

January 23, 2010

Although we were able to collect and send to England 16 good seed collections as part of our Seeds of Success (SOS) fieldwork in 2007, there were other species on our list to collect for which I located populations in the field but we could not gather enough seeds in accordance with SOS protocol.  I photographed some of these species that were attempted but not collected.  Here are 6 of them.  (Some of these may have been successfully collected for SOS by now.)

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late May 07, spiny milkwort (Polygala subspinosa), Boulder Mtn area, Wayne Co, UT

Following directions from Greg, I found dozens of these in pinion-juniper habitat around 7,800 ft elevation.  However, the site was a long distance from our headquarters in Salt Lake City, and it seemed doubtful we could find enough plants with good seed, and we did not return in 2007 to attempt a collection.

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late May 07, dwarf sand verbena (Abronia nana), Boulder Mtn area, Wayne Co, UT

While at the Polygala subspinosa site, I photographed several other species I had never noticed before, including this one.  When I returned and consulted Greg, he explained that this species also happened to be on our list to collect.  But, here I only saw about ten of these Abronia nana plants, far too few to try to collect seed from.  Late May was peak bloom time for this species, and I regret I did not spend enough attention to take a better photo.  At least I bothered to take this photo, and that May day remains the only time I’ve seen this species.

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early June 07, snowball sand verbena (Abronia fragrans), near Moab, Grand Co, UT

Greg led us to this site, where he knew this other Abronia species occurred.  Associated species here are 4-wing saltbush, shadescale, blackbrush, cliffrose, Opuntia sp., Gaillardia sp., Juniperus osteosperma, Tamarix ramosissima, Sarcobatus vermiculatus, Stanleya pinnata.  When we investigated these Abronia fragrans flowers, we found the seeds lacked good kernels.  It appeared this fairly extensive population was not producing any good seed during 2007.  Since then, I have noticed this species growing along paved roads.

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mid July 07, silky phacelia (Phacelia sericea), Uinta Mtns, Summit Co, UT

Not far off a dirt road in the Uinta Mtns, Greg and I found a few plants of this Phacelia species that was on our list.  Here, around 8,600 ft elevation, with the predominant associated species Artemisia tridentata, Pinus contorta and Abies sp., we found 5 scattered Phacelia sericea plants, including this one.  They were past peak bloom time, and all seemed to be producing good seed.  But 5 plants is too few to allow a proper SOS seed collection, and we failed to collect P. sericea in 2007.  In the following season I returned to a different area nearby and found a few more plants.  All of the ~10 P. sericea plants I have seen in the Uinta Mtns have grown where they were shaded part of the day by Pinus contorta or Abies sp. trees.

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late July 07, western blue virginsbower (Clematis occidentalis), Wasatch Mtns, Salt Lake Co, UT

I was directed to 3 previously known sites for this species in the Wasatch Mtns.  I also stumbled onto 3 more sites.  However, 5 of these 6 sites had either no blooms, or very few blooms with no good seeds.  This was one of those 5 sites.

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late July 07, western blue virginsbower (Clematis occidentalis), Wasatch Mtns, Utah Co, UT

Here is a second photo of Clematis occidentalis, from a different site (in a different county) than the previous photo’s site.  This was the only site of the 6 sites that seemed to be producing good seed.  At least some of the old blooms that looked like this were producing mostly good seed.  However, this immediate C. occidentalis population consisted of only 7 plants, on which I counted a total of only 22 flowers.  So, this species remained uncollected by us in 2007.

This site at which C. occidentalis produced at least some good seed was at lower elevation (~6,600 ft), and seemed to receive more sunlight, than the other 5 sites I investigated that apparently produced no good seed.  Associated species at this site include Populus angustifolia, Populus tremuloides, Acer glabrum, Cornus sericea, Betula occidentalis, Lonicera involucrata, Rubus parviflorus, and Chamerion angustifolium ssp. circumvagum.

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late July 07, spiny milkvetch (Astragalus kentrophyta), Wasatch Mtns, Salt Lake Co, UT

I was able to count almost 280 plants in a population of this species, growing 10,000-10,400 ft elevation, among associated species Pinus flexilis, Juniperus communis, Zigadenus elegans, Ericameria discoidea and Oreochrysum parryi.  However, when I made one visit in late July and my next visit 20 days later in mid August, I missed the best time to collect seed–which would have been the mid-point between those days.  This high-elevation species would also be difficult because each seed pod matures rapidly–the time is quite short between when a pod seems too unripe and the time when that pod ripens enough to fall from the plant.  It seemed as though rain helps almost all ripe pods to fall from their plants.  So, there was no good collection of A. kentrophyta that we could gather in 2007.  Still, I think that that site might produce a successful collection for SOS in some subsequent year.

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One Response to “SOS-attempted plant species, 2007”

  1. Brian Nielsen said

    I love that spiny milkwort! Very neat looking plant.

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