Known only a single locality, Malheur wirelettuce (Stephanomeria malheurensis. Asteraceae) is an obligately inbreeding herbaceous annual plant. Discovered in 1972 it was thought to be extinct in the wild by 1985. Dr. L. Gottlieb who found and described the species had presciently collected and stored seed, which he provided to the Berry Botanic Garden for reintroduction, bulking up, and long term storage.
An initial reintroduction attempt was begun in 1987, when the Berry Botanic Garden provided 1,000 seedlings to the Bureau of Land Management, which they planted at the original site from which the species had been known. The project was designed as a formal scientific experiment involving five treatments. Four separate areas were established, each enclosed within a rodent-proof fence that extended both above and below ground. Three of the four plots were square (5 meters on a side) were dominated by a different native plant common to the site (Artemisia tridentata, Chrysothamnus viscidiflorus, or Elymus cinerus, ALL with Bromus tectorum completely removed). The fourth was 5 x 10 meters was dominated by the invasive Bromus tectorum, of which half was manually weeded to 50 percent cover, and the other left undisturbed varied between 50 and 100 percent cover. Rabbits decimated all the plants in the Artemisia plot, which had to be re-planted in 1989, with 80 seedlings.
Population size varied so widely over time, the data are here condensed to the total number of reproductive plants in each year between 1987 and 2006: 1987, 1000 transplants; 1988, 31 plants; 1989, 939 plants (80 transplants); number of plants from 1990 - 2006 respectively, 0, 387, 105, 280, 36, 413, 24, 0, 52, 0, 113, 28, 17, 5, 0, 0, 0. Even though the population of reproductive adults was zero in three non-seuential years (1990, 1997 and 1999) the species was again considered extinct in the wild as of 2004 (zero plants seen in 2004, 2005, and 2006). In 2007 a second reintroduction attempt, led by the Oregon Department of Agriculture’s Native Plant Conservation Program staff was initiated.