|red-fruited desert-parsely, red-fruited lomatium|
|Meinke & Constance|
|Edward Guerrant, Ph.D.|
The following Participating Institutions are custodians for this species in the CPC National Collection:
Rae Selling Berry Seed Bank & Plant Conservation Programs
The conservation of Lomatium erythrocarpum is fully sponsored.
Edward Guerrant, Ph.D. contributed to this Plant Profile.
Few people have ever seen this diminutive plant that grows high in the Blue Mountains of Eastern Oregon. Lomatium erythrocarpum, with its dull olive-green leaves is easily overlooked except when in flower or fruit (Meinke 1987). The small clusters of flowers are mostly white or purplish, with flecks of reddish-purple and the fruit are large (one third of an inch long) and reddish. Without these clues, few would notice the tiny plant that is only 0.8-2.8 in (2-7 cm) tall, including the flowering stalk (Meinke and Constance 1984). The leaves of this plant grow very close to the ground and are highly divided. This may help to raise the leaf temperature above the air temperature, and to increase photosynthetic rates and respiration (Meinke and Constance 1984), all of which enable it to grow high in the mountains. This is the only species of Lomatium in the Pacific Northwest that grows on south-facing slopes at high elevations.
The plant was removed from the federal endangered/threatened candidate list in 1996. Despite its rarity and limited distribution, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service did not feel that the threats to this species were great enough to warrant protection (USFWS 1996). The primary threats are from herbivory and trampling by introduced Rocky Mountain goats. Archeological evidence shows that Rocky Mountain goats lived in Oregon (the Hell's Canyon area) prior to European settlement, but had been extirpated by native people. They did not, however, inhabit the area of the Blue Mountains where Lomatium erythrocarpum grows. Starting in the 1950's, reintroduction efforts began, primarily for hunting purposes. This introduced species is now the primary threat to the continued survival of L. erythrocarpum.
Distribution & Occurrence
This plant is found on south and east-facing (full sun exposure) steep, gravelly or talus covered slopes, along the Elkhorn Ridge of the Blue Mountains above an elevation of 8,200 ft (2,500 m). It is limited to the ecotone between the shrub-steppe and subalpine woodland, and is never found on calcareous (high in Calcium, high pH) substrates.
|As of 1995: 9 occurrences. Population numbers from surveys in 1987 and 1995: 30, ~70, 85, 100, 138, 575, 500-1000, 1900, 3000-5000. Total of approximately 6,400-8,900. However, plants are small and cryptic, so numbers may not be accurate (ONHDB 2000).|
Conservation, Ecology & Research
This is an early bloomer for the elevation. It begins flowering in June, and leaves emerge during flowering or shortly after. This early flowering is due to its being on south facing slopes, which are drier and warmer than other slopes. In addition, its leaf morphology may allow it to flower early in the season. The leaves grow close to the ground, thereby raising leaf temperature. They are broad and have many overlapping leaf divisions, thereby increasing the photosynthetic surface. Researchers speculate that these characteristics would lead to increased rates of photosynthesis and respiration and ultimately more rapid and sustained growth. This would allow the plant to devote more resources to early season reproduction (Meinke and Constance 1984).
Lomatium erythrocarpum is morphologically similar to lower elevation Lomatiums, rather than other high elevation Lomatiums. This suggests that at one point, L. erythrocarpum was found growing in low elevation areas but moved into the mountains as glaciers receded after the last Ice Age (Meinke 1987).
Herbivory by pikas (small rodents) (Meinke 1987).
Possible talus slides (Meinke 1987).
Small populations are in danger of extirpation by random events or extensive herbivory
All populations occur on US Forest Service land which is designated a roadless area (Meinke 1987).
Seed from two occurrences stored at The Berry Botanic Garden.
Research seed viability, longevity, and germination (Meinke 1987).
Research impact of Rocky Mountain Goats (Meinke 1987). Fence populations if needed.
Demographic studies to determine population trends (Meinke 1987).
Genetic analysis or enzyme assays to study relationships of this taxon with low and high elevation Lomatiums.
Study general biology/ecology further
Determine germination requirements.
Determine propagation and reintroduction protocols.
Brooks, P. 1991. Sensitive Plants of the Malheur, Ochoco, Umatilla, and the Wallowa-Whitman National Forests. USDA-Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region.