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
Hackelia venusta grows on steep slopes (25-70 degrees) composed of loose, well-drained granitic sand and broken rocks at an elevation of approx. 1600 to 2500 ft (480 -765 m) in the dry eastern slopes of the Washington Cascades. The plants grow in openings within the Ponderosa pine and Douglas-fir forests which are maintained by occasional wildfires.
|As of 2000: Only one population with fewer than 150 individuals (USFWS 2000).|
Conservation, Ecology & Research
As the common name suggests, seeds are dispersed by clinging to passing animals. The fruits of the showy stickseed are spurred and covered with stout hairs that cling to the hair and bodies of animal. They can even cling to the smooth skin on the palm of one's hand (USFWS 2000).
Fire suppression allowing plant succession to proceed and stabilize slopes. However, subsequent fire may lead to increased slope instability resulting in r
Development of micropropagation techniques to aid in reintroduction efforts- Results indicate that if vegetative material is harvested in early spring, Hackelia venusta plantlets can be successfully micropropagated, acclimatized, and reintroduced within one growing season (Wenny 1995).
Development of micropropagation techniques utilizing low levels of growth regulators- Shoot cultures normally produce true-to-type plantlets, but off-type individuals (due to mutation) can result from use of growth regulators and extended subculture. In an effort to reduce the threat of somaclonal variation, researchers supplemented culture media with minimal cytokinin and auxin. Shoot proliferation is not as vigorous as with optimal levels of growth regulators, but the benefit of reduced variation is great to the conservation field (Edson et al. 1996).
Continued propagation and tissue culture research at the Rare Plant Care and Conservation Program through the Center for Urban Horticulture at the University of Washington, Seattle. Early results show that it may be easier to grow from seed than originally thought (Laura Zybas, Rare Plant Care and Conservation Program, 2001, Personal Communication).
Endangered species and critical habitat designation proposed by US Fish and Wildlife Service in Feb. 2000. Decision coming soon
No active management of the site was occurring as of 2000 (USFWS 2000).
BBG houses seeds from the only remaining population. Seeds were collected in 1984 and 1987 as bulk collections. In 1990 and 1995 collections, seeds from different maternal lines were kept separate (BBG file).
Consultation about activities such as highway maintenance, fire suppression, timber harvest, and habitat restoration activities to determine cumulative impact on Hackelia venusta population.
Investigate the natural history of Hackelia vestusta - What was its historic range Could the white-flowered population have been at higher elevations at one time (Malmquist 1995).
Explore the risk of pests and disease being transmitted from the greenhouse to the reintroduction site. This may not be a large problem in cool climates, but all moss and liverworts should be removed from containers, and plants should be inspected by a pathologist prior to reintroduction (Malmquist 1995).
Examination of life history: Reproductive/pollination biology, seed production, germination requirements, seedling establishment, life span (Malmquist 1995).
Determine optimal germination requirements.
Develop propagation and reintroduction protocols.
Malquist, L. Pre-recovery Conference for Hackelia venusta at Moscow, Idaho. Conference notes. On file at The Berry Botanic Garden. 1995.