CPC Plant Profile: North Park Phacelia
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Plant Profile

North Park Phacelia (Phacelia formosula)

Full view of flowering plant. Note the pinnately dissected leaves and purple flowers Photo Credit: Carol Dawson
Description
  • Global Rank: G1 - Critically Imperiled
  • Legal Status: Federally Endangered
  • Family: Hydrophyllaceae
  • State: CO
  • Nature Serve ID: 138184
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 02/10/1987

Phacelia formosula is known from multiple populations in the erosive sandstone outcrops of the Coalmont Formation in North Park of Jackson County, Colorado. It was first discovered on August 6, 1918 by the Colorado botanist, George Osterhout. Other sites were not identified until 1981. There are ten identified populations of North Park phacelia with the majority of plants located in only two sites (USFWS 1986). Ongoing work is investigating the identiy of Larimer County Phacelia populations. Phacelia formosula has many stiff hairs on branching or single, upright stems. The leaves are highly divided and the purple flowers bloom from July to August. This species is a biennial or short-lived perennial. It was first listed as an endangered species in 1982 (USFWS 1982).

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Updates
Alexandra Seglias
  • 01/03/2022

As part of the IMLS seed longevity project, seeds from Phacelia formosula were recollected in 2021 from the same population as an accession from 1987. The location from the original accession was easily discerned by old information and Element Occurrence Records from the Colorado Natural Heritage Program Seed was collected by maternal line in August from Brownee State Wildlife Area in Jackson County, Colorado. 800 of the seeds were sent to NLGRP for RNA testing and an accelerated ageing experiment, and the rest of the seeds will be stored at Denver Botanic Gardens at -20C. Viability of the seeds will be tested in 2022 and every five years after that.

Center for Plant Conservation
  • 08/19/2021
  • Orthodox Seed Banking

In 2021, CPC contracted Denver Botanic Garden to recollect seed from a population currently held in long term orthodox seed storage as part of an IMLS-funded seed longevity experiment. The National Laboratory for Genetic Resources Preservation will evaluate how germination tested viability and RNA Integrity of seed lots decline over time in storage.

  • 10/17/2020
  • Orthodox Seed Banking

There are currently 29 seed collections in storage, collected from 1987-2014.

  • 10/17/2020
  • Seed Collection

There are currently 29 seed collections in storage, collected from 1987-2014.

  • 10/17/2020
  • Reproductive Research

Research efforts include studies of population and pollination ecology (USFWS 1986, Warren 1990).

  • 10/17/2020
  • Demographic Research

Research efforts include studies of population and pollination ecology (USFWS 1986, Warren 1990).

  • 10/17/2020
  • Genetic Research

Denver Botanic Gardens completed a genetic diversity assessment on 15 populations of Phacelia throughout Jackson, Larimer, and Grand Counties. Additionally, microsatellite primers were developed to characterize genetic diversity across Phacelia species in this region (Riser et al. 2017).

Alexandra Seglias
  • 12/20/2017

There are currently 29 seed collections in storage, collected from 1987-2014.

Alexandra Seglias
  • 12/20/2017

Denver Botanic Gardens completed a genetic diversity assessment on 15 populations of Phacelia throughout Jackson, Larimer, and Grand Counties. Additionally, microsatellite primers were developed to characterize genetic diversity across Phacelia species in this region (Riser et al. 2017).

Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

A narrow endemic of an area known as North Park in northern Colorado. There are currently 13 known occurrences (only 10 with positive identification) with annually fluctuating populations sizes. The species is restricted to outcrops of the Coalmont Formation - a coal-bearing substrate that is very susceptible to erosion and is often used by off-road vehicle enthusiasts. Coal extraction and domestic cattle grazing are also threats. The rank may change to G1G2 or G2, if Phacelia plants documented in the Laramie River Valley during 2004 are determined to be Phacelia formosula. However, initial research indicates that the Laramie River Valley population is a separate species. Until a final determination has been made with both morphological and genetic traits, we will maintain the Laramie River occurrences here, with Phacelia formosula.

Michelle DePrenger-Levin
  • 01/01/2010

Threats include off-road vehicle disturbance, livestock grazing, coal, oil and gas exploration (USFWS 1986).

Michelle DePrenger-Levin
  • 01/01/2010

Phacelia formosula is found in less than 10 locations and only two sites harbor significant numbers. (USFWS 1986)

Michelle DePrenger-Levin
  • 01/01/2010

Research efforts include studies of population and pollination ecology (USFWS 1986, Warren 1990).

Michelle DePrenger-Levin
  • 01/01/2010

Monitoring and recovery efforts are being undertaken by the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Michelle DePrenger-Levin
  • 01/01/2010

Research needs include population dynamics, habitat requirements for seedling establishment and recruitment.

Michelle DePrenger-Levin
  • 01/01/2010

Seed collection and storage.

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Photos
Nomenclature
Taxon Phacelia formosula
Authority Osterhout
Family Hydrophyllaceae
CPC Number 3354
ITIS 31493
USDA PHFO2
Common Names North Park Phacelia
Associated Scientific Names Phacelia formosula
Distribution Phacelia formosula is a Colorado endemic. It is found in North Park, Jackson County (USFWS 1986), with ongoing work to determine the identity of Phacelia populations in Larimer County.
State Rank
State State Rank
Colorado S1
Habitat

This species grows on sandy soils in sparsely vegetated areas of the Coalmont Formation. It can also be found growing on the side of steep ravines or sandy hills (USFWS 1982, 1986, Spackman et al. 1997).

Ecological Relationships

There are a variety of pollinating insects including a pollen and nectar feeding wasp, Pseudomasaris zonalis, associated with Phacelia formosula. (Warren 1990) It is often found with plant species: blazing star flowers (Mentzelia), rabbitbrush shrubs (Chyrsothamnus), ricegrasses (Oryzopsis), sanworts (Arenaria), wild buckwheats (Eriogonum), and native rose plants (Rosa). (USFWS 1986).

Pollinators
Common Name Name in Text Association Type Source InteractionID
Reintroduction
Lead Institution State Reintroduction Type Year of First Outplanting

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