Endangered Sierra: Standing out from the Crowd   Leave a comment

Nature, and the environments of the world, can be very complex, often surprising, and sometimes just confusing. For example, everything alive needs water; but some species need lots and lots of water, while others don’t even drink but get all the water they need from their food. Some species must live in cold areas, while others can only survive where it’s hot. And fire, which we would suspect is always bad for everyone, is actually necessary for some species to exist. Stebbins’ Morning Glory (Calystegia stebbinsii) is one of these contradictory surprises of nature.

A type of morning glory with funnel-shaped white flowers and uncommon five to nine ‘finger’ shaped palmate leaves, Stebbins’ grows only in two areas in north-eastern California and possibly could be found in a very limited area of north-western Nevada. Restricted to growth in a specific type of soil, found in a unique type of geology called gabbo, Stebbins’ requires sun and open space to live; if there is too much shade, or too many other plants that crowd the area, the morning glory will die. It’s so adjusted to life without many other plants nearby, that the only way a Stebbins’ seed will grow is through wildfire which removes other plants that might be crowding the area, and by instense and sustained heat the fire produces. Without fire, the seeds will sit dormant and never sprout.

Since 1996 about one-third of the known examples of this plant have been lost due to human land development, off-road vehicles, and trash-dumping. The US Government, along with other organizations, manages much of the remaining areas where Stebbins’ can be found, and the California Department of Fish and Game has created a preserve to protect the Stebbins’ Morning Glory and other rare and endangered plants. But there are so few individual plants remaining, and they require such a specific and unusual environment, anything from grazing livestock to changes in climate to severe weather could destroy the last of this species.

Stebbins Calystegiastebbinsii WIKI

Check out those moose-antler-shaped leaves. Maybe to discourage being eaten by a real Moose.

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