Hackelia venusta

Common Names:
Showy stickseed
(Piper) St. John
Growth Habit:
CPC Number:
Profile Contributors:
Edward Guerrant, Ph.D.
Fully Sponsored

Reference Links

ITIS - Tropicos - USDA Plants - Fish & WildLife

Participating Institutions

The following Participating Institutions are custodians for this species in the CPC National Collection:
Rae Selling Berry Seed Bank & Plant Conservation Programs
University Of Washington Botanic Gardens

The conservation of Hackelia venusta is fully sponsored.
Edward Guerrant, Ph.D. contributed to this Plant Profile.


Hackelia venusta makes up for its short stature, being only 8-16 in. (20-40) cm tall, by a splashy display of large, showy white flowers. This beautiful plant is the rarest in Washington, found at only one site in the entire state, and nowhere else in the world. The Showy stickseed is restricted to an area of less than two and a half acres on a slope within 330 feet (100 m) of a major state highway. The slope that they grow on is extremely unstable, and susceptible to landslides and disturbance by hikers and potential plant collectors, or even those only wanting to take photographs.

Only two populations of true Hackelia venusta have ever been found, within about 12 mi. (20 km) of each other in Chelan County, Washington. The plant was first discovered in 1920 in Tumwater Canyon. In 1948 an occurrence of Hackelia venusta was reported near Merrit, Washington, but recent efforts to relocate this site have been unsuccessful. Changes in land-use have most likely caused the extirpation of the plants in this area (USFWS 2000).

The sole remaining population is at the original discovery site. Although the population is still present, it has exhibited a clear downward trend over recent years. A survey in 1968 estimated that the population covered "a few hundred acres." In 1981, this population contained 800-1000 individuals. By 1984, only 400 were observed, covering 12 acres. Presently only 150 individuals remain in this population with a few additional individuals scattered along the State Highway (USFWS 2000).

Three populations of what was considered to be H. venusta were found high in the mountains, at elevations near 6,300-7,400 ft (1,920-2,255 m). Questions arose as to whether they could be considered the same species. They were observed to be shorter in stature and had smaller, blue tinged flowers. Due to the distance between the populations and differences in flowering time, the blue and white forms are incapable of naturally interbreeding (US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2000). Observations and genetic studies have indicated that they are indeed different species. The blue form has recently been named H. taylori. A major landslide completely destroyed one of the three populations in 1994 or 1995. Although H. taylori is now only found at two locations, it has not yet been listed as threatened or endangered.

Distribution & Occurrence


Conservation, Ecology & Research