Red-fruit Lomatium - Center For Plant Conservation
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Plant Profile

Red-fruit Lomatium (Lomatium erythrocarpum)

A picture says a thousand words. Few would notice something so small. Photo Credit: Matt Gitzendanner
  • Global Rank: G1 - Critically Imperiled
  • Legal Status: N/A
  • Family: Apiaceae
  • State: OR
  • Nature Serve ID: 149411
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 03/05/1993

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.

Where is Red-fruit Lomatium (Lomatium erythrocarpum) located in the wild?


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.


OR: Elkhorn Ridge of the Blue Mountains in Eastern Oregon (east or south-facing slopes)

States & Provinces:

Red-fruit Lomatium can be found in Oregon

Which CPC Partners conserve Red-fruit Lomatium (Lomatium erythrocarpum)?

CPC's Plant Sponsorship Program provides long term stewardship of rare plants in our National Collection. We are so grateful for all our donors who have made the Plant Sponsorship Program so successful. We are in the process of acknowledging all our wonderful plant sponsorship donors on our website. This is a work in progress and will be updated regularly.

Conservation Actions

  • 09/19/2020
  • Orthodox Seed Banking

Seed from two occurrences stored at The Berry Botanic Garden.

  • 09/19/2020
  • Seed Collection

Seed from two occurrences stored at The Berry Botanic Garden.

Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

Endemic to a small, high elevation area of the Blue Mountains of eastern Oregon. While only a few populations are known, they appear to be stable with an estimated total population of about 6000 plants. Although there are some documented impacts from mountain goats, a non-native species introduced to the area in the 1980s, plant populations remain stable. Climate change is a major threat to this high-elevation species. Monitoring should continue to keep tabs on these threats.

Edward Guerrant, Ph.D.
  • 01/01/2010

Herbivory and trampling by introduced Rocky Mountain goats (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

Edward Guerrant, Ph.D.
  • 01/01/2010

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).

Edward Guerrant, Ph.D.
  • 01/01/2010

No formal research known.

Edward Guerrant, Ph.D.
  • 01/01/2010

No active management (Meinke 1987). 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.

Edward Guerrant, Ph.D.
  • 01/01/2010

Further searches to locate new populations should be done in Elkhorn Ridge area, Strawberry Mountains and the south flank of the Wallowa Mountains (Meinke 1987). 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

Edward Guerrant, Ph.D.
  • 01/01/2010

Collect and store seeds from representative populations. Determine germination requirements. Determine propagation and reintroduction protocols.


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Taxon Lomatium erythrocarpum
Authority Meinke & Constance
Family Apiaceae
CPC Number 2662
ITIS 503535
Common Names red-fruited desert-parsely | red-fruited lomatium
Associated Scientific Names Lomatium erythrocarpum
Distribution OR: Elkhorn Ridge of the Blue Mountains in Eastern Oregon (east or south-facing slopes)
State Rank
State State Rank
Oregon S1S2
Ecological Relationships

Lomatium erythrocarpum is predominantly pollinated by a syrphid fly, and visited occasionally by a small bumblebee. Seeds are dispersed by wind and gravity (Meinke 1987).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).


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