CPC Plant Profile: Oregon Checker-mallow
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Plant Profile

Oregon Checker-mallow (Sidalcea oregana var. calva)

A cluster of pink Sidalcea oregana var. calva flowers. Photo Credit: Washington NHP
Description
  • Global Rank: T1 - Critically Imperiled
  • Legal Status: Federally Endangered
  • Family: Malvaceae
  • State: WA
  • Nature Serve ID: 146695
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 04/04/1991

In September of 2001, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service caught the attention of many botanists with a promising news release. They had officially designated 6,135 acres of seasonal wetlands as "critical habitat" for the endemic Wenatchee Mountains checker-mallow. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed Sidalcea oregana var. calva as Endangered in 1999, legally protecting individual plants on Federal land from activities that could cause their destruction. The critical habitat designation is also important because it protects most of the approximately 125 acres of habitat that this rare plant currently inhabits and it protects significant additional habitat to allow for population expansion and overall health of the ecosystem. By establishing conservation of this delicate habitat, activities on Federal land that will disturb the habitat, such as up-slope disturbances from road construction, logging or other hydrological alterations will be precluded. Sidalcea oregana var. calva is found growing with another rare species, Delphinium viridescens (Wenatchee larkspur) at three sites (this species is also profiled on this web site). They share similar habitat requirements, so it stands to reason that conservation efforts to protect habitat for one species will benefit the other.

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Updates
  • 09/29/2020
  • Propagation Research

Germination studies at The Berry Botanic Garden have yielded no germination. Seeds were subjected to 8 weeks of cold stratification or no cold stratification which was followed by either constant 68F (20C) or alternating 50F/68F (10C/20C) temperatures. It is not known whether the conditions for germination were not met or if seed was not viable (BBG File).

  • 09/29/2020
  • Reproductive Research

Field experiments and observational studies of possible factors contributing to the rarity of Sidalcea oregana var. calva: -Pollination studies are being conducted to determine whether increased pollination (hand pollination) increases fruit/seed development, possibly indicating a pollination limitation. Pollinators are being observed and identified (Goldsmith 2001). -The effect of controlled burning after plants have released mature seed is being investigated. Small plots (2m x 2m) containing Sidalcea oregana var. calva were burned in October of 2001 and will be compared to control plots (unburned) the following growing season. The hypothesis is that S. oregana var. calva will re-sprout after fire with increased vigor (Goldsmith 2001). -Observational studies are being conducted on seed predation by weevils. Weevils have been noted in fruits and flowers in many S. oregana var. calva studies and recent observations have shown that they destroy seeds in alarming proportions of fruits (Goldsmith 2001).

  • 09/29/2020
  • Orthodox Seed Banking

Seed collected and stored at The Berry Botanic Garden.

  • 09/29/2020
  • Seed Collection

Seed collected and stored at The Berry Botanic Garden.

Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

Endemic to very narrow range in Chelan County, Washington. Only five extant populations are known, and there is considerable disturbance to historical and current habitat. In addition, this taxon is subject to high levels of seed predation by weevils and other insects.

Edward Guerrant, Ph.D.
  • 01/01/2010

Threats include (as stated by USFWS 1999, WNHP 1999, and Goldsmith 2001): Seed herbivory by weevils. Because of the low population numbers, populations are susceptible to extirpation due to random events. Conversion of habitat to housing, agricultur

Edward Guerrant, Ph.D.
  • 01/01/2010

As of 2001: Six populations with approximately 3,600 individuals total over a total area of approximately 125 acres. Three populations are very small. Approximate population sizes are as follows: 2 populations have 5 or fewer individuals, one has approximately 30, the other populations are larger (100 individuals or more) with the largest having as many as 2500 individuals. Most plants are located on land designated as a Natural Area Preserve managed by the Washington Department of Natural Resources. Others are found on U.S. Forest Service land and areas of private property (USFWS 2001).

Edward Guerrant, Ph.D.
  • 01/01/2010

Field experiments and observational studies of possible factors contributing to the rarity of Sidalcea oregana var. calva: -Pollination studies are being conducted to determine whether increased pollination (hand pollination) increases fruit/seed development, possibly indicating a pollination limitation. Pollinators are being observed and identified (Goldsmith 2001). -The effect of controlled burning after plants have released mature seed is being investigated. Small plots (2m x 2m) containing Sidalcea oregana var. calva were burned in October of 2001 and will be compared to control plots (unburned) the following growing season. The hypothesis is that S. oregana var. calva will re-sprout after fire with increased vigor (Goldsmith 2001). -Observational studies are being conducted on seed predation by weevils. Weevils have been noted in fruits and flowers in many S. oregana var. calva studies and recent observations have shown that they destroy seeds in alarming proportions of fruits (Goldsmith 2001). Germination studies at The Berry Botanic Garden have yielded no germination. Seeds were subjected to 8 weeks of cold stratification or no cold stratification which was followed by either constant 68F (20C) or alternating 50F/68F (10C/20C) temperatures. It is not known whether the conditions for germination were not met or if seed was not viable (BBG File).

Edward Guerrant, Ph.D.
  • 01/01/2010

Seed collected and stored at The Berry Botanic Garden. Listed as Endangered by the State of Washington and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. ""Critical Habitat"" for Sidalcea oregana var. calva designated in 2001. A Recovery Plan is being developed. The draft is expected to be completed early in 2002.

Edward Guerrant, Ph.D.
  • 01/01/2010

Conduct additional searches to determine the distribution of the species in Washington. Continue studying the effect of burning on Sidalcea oregana var. calva, including the effects of fire on seed viability and germination (Goldsmith 2001). Investigate the effects of burning on weevils, including how time of burn may be important (e.g. if it is best to burn Sidalcea oregana var. calva in the fall, but the weevils have completed their lifecycle and can fly by then, the burn may not have the desired effect of destroying the weevils) (Goldsmith 2001). Conduct a controlled (greenhouse) study of the reproductive mechanism of Sidalcea oregana var. calva, which may aid future conservation efforts (Goldsmith 2001).

Edward Guerrant, Ph.D.
  • 01/01/2010

Collect and store a genetically representative sample of seeds from all known populations. Determine germination requirements. Determine propagation and reintroduction protocols.

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Nomenclature
Taxon Sidalcea oregana var. calva
Authority C.L. Hitchc.
Family Malvaceae
CPC Number 3983
ITIS 566794
USDA SIORC2
Common Names Oregon checker-mallow | Wenatchee checker-mallow | Oregon checkerbloom | Wenatchee Mountains checker-mallow
Associated Scientific Names Sidalcea oregana var. calva | Sidalcea oregana ssp. oregana
Distribution WA: Eastern Cascades (Chelan County)
State Rank
State State Rank
Washington S1
Habitat

Sidalcea oregana var. calva is found most often in moist meadows with surface water or saturated soil from spring into early summer. Occasionally, it is found in open conifer stands dominated by Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) and Ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) or on the margins of shrubs and hardwood thickets. Approximate elevation ranges from 1,970 to 3,300 ft (600-1000 m).

Ecological Relationships

Sidalcea oregana var. calva is found most often in moist meadows that have surface water or saturated soil during spring and early summer. The soil is typically clay-loam or silty loam. Recent changes in hydrology causing both too much water and too little water have been detrimental to S. oregana var. calva (USFWS 1999). Historically, fire probably played an important role in maintaining suitable habitat for this species. It kept woody shrubs from encroaching into meadow habitats and improved light availability (WNHP 1999). Flowering begins in mid- to late June and usually peaks in mid- to late July, but may continue into mid-August. Fruits usually develop by early August (WNHP 1999). Little is known about the specific ecology of this species. Studies on the pollinators and reproductive ecology are currently underway. The species commonly found growing near S. oregana var. calva include: quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides), black hawthorn (Crataegus douglasii), snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus), serviceberry (Amelanchier alnifolia), few-flowered peavine (Lathyrus pauciflorus), sticky purple geranium (Geranium viscosissimum) and California false helleborne (Veratrum californicum) (USFWS 1999).

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

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