CPC Plant Profile: Seely's Silene
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Plant Profile

Seely's Silene (Silene seelyi)

Members of the genus Silene have five lobed petals. The open flower on the left is missing one petal. Photo Credit: John Gamon
Description
  • Global Rank: G3 - Vulnerable
  • Legal Status: N/A
  • Family: Caryophyllaceae
  • State: WA
  • Nature Serve ID: 146395
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 03/08/1989

Silene seelyi is definitely rare but debatably threatened. The extreme cliff-dwelling habitat of Seely's catchfly protects it from common threats such as anthropomorphic development or competition from invasive species. However with the assistance of ropes, bolts, pulleys and anchors, there is one potential threat to this taxon: rock climbers. This species is found nestled in crevices and fissures on cliffs and talus slopes from elevations of 1,500 to 6,300 feet (450 to 1920 m). Silene seelyi, named for Washington resident Clarence B. Seely, is found in approximately 30 sites clustered in the Wenatchee Mountains near Leavenworth, WA a popular site for rock climbers. According to study completed by Devin R. Malkin of the University of Washington's Center for Urban Horticulture, there was no damage from climbers but the sites should be monitored in case of increased usage. Studies showed that although size distribution of individuals was similar in climbed and unclimbed sites, there were less total plants in the climbed areas. It is important to protect the population sites that have the potential for over usage by climbers in the future.

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Updates
  • 09/29/2020
  • Propagation Research

Germination studies conducted at the Berry Botanic Garden were inconclusive. Three trials were conducted with seed from three different plants, all of which had been stored the same length of time. Seeds were subjected either to no cold stratification or 8 weeks of cold stratification followed by either constant 68F (20C) or alternating 50/68F (10/20C). In the first trial, the treatment of cold stratification followed by alternating temperatures resulted in 80% germination while all other treatments resulted in 20% germination. In the second trial, 100% of the seeds germinated when cold stratification was followed by constant temperatures. The other treatments yielded 60-80% germination. In the third trial, the constant 68F (20C) treatment without cold stratification resulted in 40% germination. No other seeds germinated in that trial. These inconsistent results may have been due to initial differences in the viability of the different batches of seed or due to different germination requirements of seed produced by different plants (BBG File).

  • 09/29/2020
  • Orthodox Seed Banking

Seed from 9 locations stored at The Berry Botanic Garden.

  • 09/29/2020
  • Seed Collection

Seed from 9 locations stored at The Berry Botanic Garden.

Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

Endemic to the Wenatchee Mountains in Chelan and Kittitas counties, Washington. About 16 extant sites with most having fewer than 100 plants. Threats are relatively low as most sites are inaccessible but they do include trampling by hikers, disturbance/uprooting of plants by rock climbers, and potentially road maintenance.

Edward Guerrant, Ph.D.
  • 01/01/2010

As stated by the Washington Natural Heritage Program (WNHP 1999), threats include: Road construction (blasting of hillsides). Rock climbing. Rock slides.

Edward Guerrant, Ph.D.
  • 01/01/2010

Sites are clustered in an area only 20 miles long by 10 miles wide (30 km x 15 km). Approximately 30 occurrences (Malkin 2001). Sizes range from just a few to nearly 500. The total number of individuals is probably around 2,500 (WNHP 2000; Malkin 2001).

Edward Guerrant, Ph.D.
  • 01/01/2010

Initial conservation assessment and effects of rock climbing on Silene seelyi. Sites subject to climbing had fewer plants per square meter than sites that were not actively climbed. Size distribution between climbed and unclimbed areas was similar (Malkin 2001). Germination studies conducted at the Berry Botanic Garden were inconclusive. Three trials were conducted with seed from three different plants, all of which had been stored the same length of time. Seeds were subjected either to no cold stratification or 8 weeks of cold stratification followed by either constant 68F (20C) or alternating 50/68F (10/20C). In the first trial, the treatment of cold stratification followed by alternating temperatures resulted in 80% germination while all other treatments resulted in 20% germination. In the second trial, 100% of the seeds germinated when cold stratification was followed by constant temperatures. The other treatments yielded 60-80% germination. In the third trial, the constant 68F (20C) treatment without cold stratification resulted in 40% germination. No other seeds germinated in that trial. These inconsistent results may have been due to initial differences in the viability of the different batches of seed or due to different germination requirements of seed produced by different plants (BBG File).

Edward Guerrant, Ph.D.
  • 01/01/2010

No active management. Seed from 9 locations stored at The Berry Botanic Garden. The Washington Department of Transportation has agreed to avoid direct impacts to the plant and its habitat during construction and maintenance (Malkin 2001).

Edward Guerrant, Ph.D.
  • 01/01/2010

Search for and inventory suitable habitat within the known range. Monitor for increases in rock climbing usage.

Edward Guerrant, Ph.D.
  • 01/01/2010

Collect and store seed from as many known populations as possible. Determine germination requirements. Determine propagation and reintroduction protocols. Study viability of fresh seeds and seeds that have been stored for long periods of time.

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Photos
Nomenclature
Taxon Silene seelyi
Authority C.V. Morton & J.W. Thomp.
Family Caryophyllaceae
CPC Number 6568
ITIS 505233
USDA SISE2
Common Names Seeley's catchfly | Seeley's silene
Associated Scientific Names Silene seelyi | Anotites seelyi
Distribution WA: Wenatchee Mountains of southern Chelan and adjacent Kittitas counties
State Rank
State State Rank
Washington S3
Habitat

Silene seelyi grows at elevations of around 1,500 to 6,300 feet (450 to 1920 m) in shaded crevices on steep slopes (approximately 15-20% grade) in basaltic rock outcrops or occasionally on talus slopes. They are sometimes found in rocky or sandy soil near the base of the cliffs. Few other species grow in close proximity. Those that do include alumroot (Heuchera cylindrica), Chelan penstemon (Penstemon pruinosus) and Wallace's selaginella (Selaginella wallacei).

Ecological Relationships

At the sites in which Silene seelyi grows, nutrient availability is poor and water is limiting. There is little competition from other vegetation, as this is one of the few species growing in this harsh habitat. Silene seelyi flowers from late May to August (WNHP 1999). Seeds most likely are dispersed by gravity and wind, but it may be difficult for seeds to disperse laterally across the cliff face. Seedling establishment may be limiting, as a seed must settle in a crack along the rock face.

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

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