CPC Plant Profile: Clay Phacelia
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Plant Profile

Clay Phacelia (Phacelia argillacea)

This shot shows off the beautiful blue flowers of this member of the waterleaf family. Photo Credit: ©R. Delmatier
Description
  • Global Rank: N/A
  • Legal Status: N/A
  • Family: Hydrophyllaceae
  • State: UT
  • Nature Serve ID: 133894
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 02/10/1987

Clay phacelia is a Federally listed endangered plant. It is found in only one location in the world--Spanish Fork Canyon in Utah. In 1977, only nine plants were known to exist. The main cause attributed to this decline was the construction of a railroad directly through the known population, and the plant was listed due to concerns that an access road to the railroad would eliminate the few remaining plants. (USFWS 1978) By 1980, the size of the remaining population had declined even further, to only four individual plants, due to trampling by sheep. (USFWS 1980) At this point in the continuing saga of this plant, the tiny population was fenced, and by 1982 the plants had recovered to some extent, with about 200 plants known. (USFWS 1982a, 1982b) In 1990, fenced population was further protected when The Nature Conservancy purchased the land it was on. (Biodiversity Network News 1990) Today, the species is in a stable but precarious position, protected from extinction by not much more than a fence and the will of dedicated individuals. This species is a member of the waterleaf family that grows on steep talus slopes in Spanish Fork Canyon, Utah. It is a winter annual, germinating in the fall and producing violet to pink flowers in the summer.

Participating Institutions
Updates
  • 09/23/2020
  • Genetic Research

Habitat surveys, population monitoring, and genetic studies have been initiated with funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, and the Utah Native Plant Society. (USGS 2000)

  • 09/23/2020
  • Demographic Research

Habitat surveys, population monitoring, and genetic studies have been initiated with funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, and the Utah Native Plant Society. (USGS 2000)

  • 09/23/2020
  • Propagation Research

Lori Armstrong, a graduate student at Brigham Young University, did her master's work on the species in the early 1990's, and researchers at Red Butte Garden and Arboretum assisted in some of the propagation work.

Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

A narrow endemic of Utah County, Utah. There are only two known populations. Since this species is a winter annual and is extremely restricted by climatic and edaphic factors, it is vulnerable to extinction. Neither population is on pristine habitat - the larger population is bisected by railroad tracks and a main highway - and both populations have been subject to sheep grazing.

Sylvia Torti
  • 01/01/2010

Small population size could result in natural extinction Railway or road maintenance or construction Rock climbers Sheep grazing

Sylvia Torti
  • 01/01/2010

There are only a few dozen plants clinging to shale hillsides at three locations west of Soldier Summit.

Sylvia Torti
  • 01/01/2010

Lori Armstrong, a graduate student at Brigham Young University, did her master's work on the species in the early 1990's, and researchers at Red Butte Garden and Arboretum assisted in some of the propagation work. Habitat surveys, population monitoring, and genetic studies have been initiated with funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, and the Utah Native Plant Society. (USGS 2000)

Sylvia Torti
  • 01/01/2010

This species is managed by the Forest Service. The Nature Conservancy owns and manages the land the original population occurs on, maintaining a fence around most of the population to protect the plants from grazing and trampling. (USGS 2002)

Sylvia Torti
  • 01/01/2010

The population should be re-censused and the feasibility of reintroduction should be studied.

Sylvia Torti
  • 01/01/2010

This species has been grown successfully to maturity in the greenhouse.

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Photos
Nomenclature
Taxon Phacelia argillacea
Authority Atwood
Family Hydrophyllaceae
CPC Number 3340
ITIS 31455
USDA PHAR2
Common Names Clay phacelia | Attwood's phacelia
Associated Scientific Names Phacelia argillacea
Distribution Found only in Spanish Fork Canyon in Utah. (USGS 2002)
State Rank
State State Rank
Utah S1
Habitat

Steep hillsides in a sparse juniper-pinyon or mountain brush community on a fine textured clay derived from a shale.

Ecological Relationships

None known.

Pollinators
Common Name Name in Text Association Type Source InteractionID

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