CPC Plant Profile: Kearney's Slimpod
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Plant Profile

Kearney's Slimpod (Amsonia kearneyana)

The terminal clusters of white flowers and lance-shaped leaves of Amsonia kearneyana. Photo Credit: Kathy Rice
Description
  • Global Rank: G1 - Critically Imperiled
  • Legal Status: Federally Endangered
  • Family: Apocynaceae
  • State: AZ, SI
  • Nature Serve ID: 136515
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 02/25/1988

Subgenus Sphinctosiphon includes five Arizona species: A. kearneyana, A. jonesii, A. palmeri and A. peeblesii, A. kearneyana was considered as synonomous with A. palmeri (North American Flora 29:129), but Kearney, et al (1960) maintain A. kearneyana based on distinct characteristics of mature follicles. McLaughlin (1982) retains species based based on geographic separation between species, larger corolla lobes and stem pubescence. A. kearneyana is not a synonym of A. palmeri as suggested by Woodson (1928) and should be retained as a distinct species. A specimen of A. palmeri from the Rio Bravispe, northeastern Sonora, has some characteristics of A. kearneyana. A. kearneyana, or Kearney's blue star, is a perennial herb in the dogbane family (Apocynaceae), with many erect 40-80 cm stems(up to 50) pilose stems and alternate, lance-shaped leaves. The stems are sparingly branched, densely pubescent and alternate to subverticillate. The leaves are oblong-lanceolate to lanceolate, 4 to 7 cm long, and moderately pubescent. Flowers are white with a pale pinkish base, born in culsters at the ends of branches, with a pubescent calyx. The corollas are salverform, with short loves on the end 1 to 2 cm long, pepery follicles 2-5 cm long with cylindrical corky seeds. Amsonia kearneyana has the largest seed size for its subgroup within the family. The root crown of the plant initiates stem and leaf buds by mid-February, and plants stop growing by September to October (USFWS 1993). By December, they are completely dormant. The white flowers are produced in terminal clusters in March and April (USFWS 1993). Fruits ripen between June and July.

Participating Institutions
Updates
  • 07/28/2020
  • Reintroduction

From 1987 to 1989, The USFWS contracted with Southwestern Field Biologists to transplant Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum seeds from South Canyon to establish a new population.

  • 07/28/2020
  • Reintroduction

Potential sites for reintroduction were surveyed (Howell 1987) and Kearney's blue star was planted in the fall of 1988. Approximately 200 plants were transplanted during the fall of 1988 and spring of 1989. Plants were hand watered every one to two weeks during the first summer after planting. After a spring flood scoured out the drainage where the natural population is located, as well the reintroduced site, only 33 plants remained in both sites (Reichenbacher 1991). In 1992, these 33 plants were supplemented with additional plants.

  • 07/28/2020
  • Living Collection

A seedbank of wild-collected seeds has been established. In addition, seeds produced on plants grown from wild-collected seed are produced and stored for research purposes. Plans are in effect to expand display areas to accommodate increased conservation-oriented plantings, and to continue to produce seeds in cultivation.

  • 07/28/2020
  • Seed Collection

A seedbank of wild-collected seeds has been established. In addition, seeds produced on plants grown from wild-collected seed are produced and stored for research purposes. Plans are in effect to expand display areas to accommodate increased conservation-oriented plantings, and to continue to produce seeds in cultivation.

Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

Native populations are known only from an isolated area on the western slope of the Baboquivari Mountains of Arizona and from a small area nearby in northern Sonora, Mexico. The very small population in Arizona is threatened with damage or destruction from major flash floods, wildfires, and overuse of the habitat by livestock. The plants are not reproducing successfully due to insect predation on the embryos. Introduced (about 1989) to an apparently appropriate habitat on the east side of the Baboquivari Mountains in a conservation management effort toward saving the species from extinction.

Kathleen C. Rice
  • 01/01/2010

Limited distribution, declining habitat, and poor reproduction are reasons why this species was listed as endangered (USFWS 1993). Additional factors include trampling and other effects from grazing. Plant

Kathleen C. Rice
  • 01/01/2010

11 populations (J. Donovan 1998). Kearney's Blue Star was formerly known from only a single extant population in Pima County, Arizona. In 1986, a brief check of the population reported only eight plants. A historic population of Kearney's Blue Star was documented by a herbaruim specimen collected by Goodding on May 14, 1941, but a 1992 search was unsuccessful in locating any plants (USFWS 1993). The location of this species was forgotten between 1928 and the mid 1970's, McLaughlin found the plants in South Canyon (8 individuals). In 1987, Howell surveyed for additional locations, but none were found, partly due to the fact that she did not search the sides of canyons--she looked along canyon bottoms. From 1987 to 1989, The USFWS contracted with Southwestern Field Biologists to transplant Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum seeds from South Canyon to establish a new population. An introduced population in Brown Canyon (east side of Baboquivari Mountains) declined from approximately 130 to 35 plants (2/3 of the population) following a flood in 1990. (At the Bureau of Land Management, Safford District, Rare plants Workshop, Frank Reichenbacher stated that the flood occurred in July 1991. However, his report of 1991 gives the year as 1990). In the spring of 1988, about 90 plants were planted in Brown Canyon, which is now part of the Buenos Aires Wildlife Refuge. The one native US population was thought to consist of approximately 10-15 individuals as of the late 1980's. The native population in 1986 and 1987 was 8-12 individuals. Flooding occured in 1988, 1989, and 1992. By November 1993, 65 of the introduced plants in Brown Canyon survived. Low recruitment was due partially to seed collection on two consecutive years, because insects were predating the seeds. No young plants were found in South Canyon at all. The status of the Sycamore Canyon population is unknown.

Kathleen C. Rice
  • 01/01/2010

Plants are continually monitored, and the population has been augmented three times.

Kathleen C. Rice
  • 01/01/2010

Potential sites for reintroduction were surveyed (Howell 1987) and Kearney's blue star was planted in the fall of 1988. Approximately 200 plants were transplanted during the fall of 1988 and spring of 1989. Plants were hand watered every one to two weeks during the first summer after planting. After a spring flood scoured out the drainage where the natural population is located, as well the reintroduced site, only 33 plants remained in both sites (Reichenbacher 1991). In 1992, these 33 plants were supplemented with additional plants.

Kathleen C. Rice
  • 01/01/2010

Objectives set forth by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS 1993) are: (1) to establish and maintain 10 self-sustaining populations of at least 200 reproducing individuals each (2) protect populations from human threats (3) develop guidelines and techniques for supplementing natural populations and (4) continued demographic monitoring. Research that can aid in recovery efforts include understanding general biology and reproductive ecology, dispersal mechanism (s) and seedling recruitment.

Kathleen C. Rice
  • 01/01/2010

A seedbank of wild-collected seeds has been established. In addition, seeds produced on plants grown from wild-collected seed are produced and stored for research purposes. Plans are in effect to expand display areas to accommodate increased conservation-oriented plantings, and to continue to produce seeds in cultivation.

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Photos
Nomenclature
Taxon Amsonia kearneyana
Authority Woodson
Family Apocynaceae
CPC Number 119
ITIS 184767
USDA AMKE
Common Names Kearney's blue-star | Kearney's slimpod | Kearney's bluestar
Associated Scientific Names Amsonia kearneyana
Distribution Populations are found in extreme southern Arizona (Phillips and Brian 1982, USFWS 1993), along the western slopes of the Baboquivari Mountains, Pima County, Arizona. The range within Arizona is in So
State Rank
State State Rank
Arizona S1
Sonora
Habitat

Plants occur at 3,700 ft. elevation, and inhabit dry, rocky washes (Fletcher 1979, USFWS 1993). Associated plant communities are Sonoran Desert scrub and Semidesert Grassland, with the dominant species including Quercus oblongifolia, Acacia greggii, Celtis pallida, Gossypium thurberi, Ptlea angustifolia, Juglans major, and Prosopis velutina (Phillips and Brian 1982, USFWS 1993). """"Mexican blue oak association, Sonoran Desertscrub, Semidesert Grassland plant communities or a transition zone between the two."""" (Reichenbacher 1993)

Ecological Relationships

Seeds may be sterile (Woodson 1928). However, McLaughlin suggests that any seed sterility is partly due to insect predation on the embryo.

Pollinators
Common Name Name in Text Association Type Source InteractionID
Butterflies & Moths
Butterflies Floral Visitor Link
Beetles
Flower beetles Mordellidae Floral Visitor Link

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