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 Ranunculus reconditus is fully sponsored.
Edward Guerrant, Ph.D. contributed to this Plant Profile.
First of all, there are very few populations of Ranunculus reconditus. Secondly, although the species is listed as Endangered by the State of Oregon and Threatened by the State of Washington, only one piece of land is officially protected due to where the populations are located. Populations on the Columbia Hills Natural Area Preserve in Washington are the only sites officially (legally) protected from grazing and development. Other populations, while not protected by law, have been voluntarily protected. In Oregon, one large population was once on private land that was managed by The Nature Conservancy. The Nature Conservancy purchased the land, and then sold it to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), who now manages it. This population is monitored annually and appears stable. The land is on a grazing allotment, but because of the steep, rocky terrain where the buttercup lives, grazing does not impact the plants at this site (Ron Halvorson, pers. comm.).
The Obscure buttercup resembles the common, widespread sagebrush buttercup, Ranunculus glaberrimus. The common species has entire or broadly lobed leaves, while the rare Ranunculus reconditus has dissected leaves (divided into three sections). It is unknown why these plants, that look so much alike and are closely related, have such different distributions. R. glaberrimus is found in ponderosa pine woodlands and sagebrush desert from British Columbia to northern California, New Mexico, and as far east as the Dakotas and Nebraska. In contrast, Ranunculus reconditus is found at only 10 occurrences along the Columbia River in Washington and Oregon.
Distribution & Occurrence
Habitat in Washington consists of open, well-drained slopes and basalt ridges dominated by scattered big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata), bluebunch wheatgrass (Pseudoroegneria spicata) and buckwheat (Eriogonum spp.). In Oregon, habitat is generally in openings within Oregon white oak (Quercus garreyana) woodland. Scattered ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) and/or Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) may also be present. Elevations range from 2900-3900 ft (900-1200 m). Soils may be both loamy and moderately deep, or in the transition area between loamy and rocky, shallow soils.
OR: Wasco County
WA: Klickitat County
|In WA, 8 occurrences known since 1987. Populations range from "100+" to "several hundred." One other occurrence was reported in 1938, but the location data is not complete. Either it cannot be re-located, or it has been extirpated (WNHP 2000). 2 occurrences are currently known in Oregon with population numbers ranging from 50 to 800 (ONHP 2000).|
Conservation, Ecology & Research
The primary pollinator is suspected to be Amecocerus sp. (a beetle). It has only been found crawling within plants, not flying, suggesting that pollination occurs within limited distance with other plants. As the fruit matures, the flowering stalk bends downward until the seed head touches the soil. Most seeds are dispersed under or near the parent plant, creating a "clumped" distribution. Seed death, low germination, and seedling death are possible factors in explaining why such a small percentage of the seeds produced annually become established as seedlings (Wilderman 2001). Reproductive output and seedling establishment are dependant on yearly precipitation levels (Wilderman 2001).
In Washington, the habitat has a fire interval of 30-90 years. It is not known if the species relies on fire in any way (WNHP 1999). However, in Oregon, the rocky, steep, and isolated habitat does not naturally burn (Ron Halvorson, pers. comm.).
Invasion of noxious weeds
Hot fires due to increased leave litter after years of fire suppression
Potential ORV use
Initial germination tests at The Berry Botanic Garden showed extremely low germination percentages. Only seeds subjected to 8 weeks of cold stratification germinated. When subsequently placed in 68F (20C) conditions, 17% germinated. Under alternating 50F/68F (10C/20C) temperatures, 43% of seeds germinated. Further research should be done to determine if germination success can be increased (BBG File)
Analysis of genetic diversity within and between populations using RAPD markers. Genetic comparison of the rare Ranunculus reconditus with the closely related and widespread R. glaberrimus (Sallie Herman, pers. comm.).
Annual monitoring of the Oregon population conducted by the BLM (Ron Halvorson, pers. comm.).
Study effect of fire on populations (WNHP 1999)
Study impact of noxious weeds on R. reconditus (Ron Halvorson, pers. comm.).
Study pollination biology, seed germination and ecology, and seedling establishment (Wilderman 2001).
Continue demographic monitoring to help elucidate long term population trends (Wilderman 2001)
Determine optimum germination conditions. Develop tissue culture methods if germination percentages remain low.
Determine effective propagation and reintroduction protocols
Wilderman, D. 2001. Population Characteristics and Demographics of Obscure Buttercup (Ranunculus reconditus Nels. &Macbr.). In: Reichard, S.H.; Dunwiddie, P.W.; Gamon, J.; Kruckeberg, A.R.; Salstrom, D.L., editors. Conservation of Washington's Rare Pl