CPC Plant Profile: Arizona Eryngo
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Plant Profile

Arizona Eryngo (Eryngium sparganophyllum)

Habitat at La Cebedilla. August 29, 2016. Photo Credit: Steve Blackwell
Description
  • Global Rank: G1 - Critically Imperiled
  • Legal Status: N/A
  • Family: Apiaceae
  • State: AZ, NM
  • Nature Serve ID: 158020
  • Date Inducted in National Collection:

Eryngium sparganophyllum is a herbaceous perennial with a basal rosette of leaves and dichotomously branching scapose stems to 1.5 m tall with an average of 1.75 flowering stems per plant and an average of 3.4 heads per stem; basal leaves linear, up to 1 m long, entire or rarely with one or two spinose teeth, tapering to a point, strongly involute when dry; cauline leaves few and reduced; roots adventitious; plant also reproducing vegetatively via rhizomes. Inflorescence a compound umbel with compact head-like umbels terminating the branches; up to 12 ovoid or ovoid-oblong heads per stem, 12-25 mm long, 10-15 mm wide, with 8-12 short ovate or lanceolate basal bracts and similar, but smaller 5mm long bractlets within the head that barely exceed the length of the fruits, with an average of 96 florets per head; corolla cream colored or bluish purple; fruit an ovoid schizocarp, 3-4 mm long with scales at the angles and smaller scales between, two seeds per fruit, seed mass 0.048 g (+/-0.002 se), morphophysiological dormancy (embryos underdeveloped at seed maturity; physiological dormancy broken with cold stratification at 5°C or with gibberellic acid). Chromosome count 2n = 16 (Sample taken from Cruden 1161 – specimen from Durango Mexico, ca 5 km NE of El Salto). Flowering first year. Flowers from March to June, with seeds dispersing into October in Arizona. Historically flowered June through September in New Mexico.

Participating Institutions
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Updates
Steve Blackwell
  • 05/07/2021
  • Propagation Research

We recently completed a germination study for Eryngium sparganophyllum showing that its seeds benefit from a period of cold stratification which lead to greater than 80% germination. As a result of this study, we were able produce hundreds of plants that have been used in previous and future restoration efforts in collaboration with the USFWS and BLM.

  • 10/05/2020
  • Living Collection

Desert Botanical Garden has germinated and raised from seed multiple individuals from these seed accessions. One of these individuals is planted at DBG Oasis pond.

  • 10/05/2020
  • Demographic Research

In 2013 and 2014 Dustin Wolkis conducted research on multiple ciéngas in Arizona that included plant community composition and associated ecological data. E. sparganophyllum was part of the plant communities at one of these locations, which provided much needed information about this species including community composition and soil characteristics. In April 2018 demographic, ecological, and plant community information was collected from the wild Arizona populations

  • 10/05/2020
  • Genetic Research

In 1976 research was published on the Umbelliferae (Apiaceae) family, including E. sparganophyllum, which was reported to have a 2n = 16 chromosome count.

  • 10/05/2020
  • Living Collection

In 2016 DBG provided seed to Pima County Nursery for a propagation experiment. Approximately 130 seedlings germinated from that experiment. The majority of the seedlings remain at Pima County Native Plant Nursery and are currently being maintained in the shade house for future outplanting at Agua Caliente Park and/or other suitable sites.

  • 10/05/2020
  • Living Collection

In 2016 DBG provided seed to Pima County Nursery for a propagation experiment. Approximately 130 seedlings germinated from that experiment. Ten of those seedlings were transferred to Boyce Thomson Arboretum, where they are being maintained in a shade house until outplanting can take place.

  • 10/05/2020
  • Reintroduction

In 2016 DBG also provided 21 one-gallon potted plants to Pima County Native Plant Nursery for a transplant experiment. These individuals were later outplanted to different areas in Agua Caliente Park by a subcontractor in September and October of 2017. In 2018 a Pima County Native Plant Nursery began a new transplant experiment that is still underway as of October 2018. In 2018, Thirty-five of these seedlings were outplanted for a survivorship and monitoring experiment. Thirty were planted at different locations at Agua Caliente Park, and five were planted at La Cebedilla as a control.

  • 10/05/2020
  • Propagation Research

In 2016 DBG provided seed to Pima County Nursery for a propagation experiment. Approximately 130 seedlings germinated from that experiment. In 2016 Pima County Native Plant Nursery conducted a seed germination experiment and transplant experiment. Cold stratification was required to break dormancy for the germination experiment. The transplant experiment provided some knowledge about survivorship under restoration conditions.

  • 10/05/2020
  • Propagation Research

In 2015 through 2017 Desert Botanical Garden conducted seed germination experiments which revealed that: E. sparganophyllum seeds have morphophysiological dormancy. At seed maturity the embryos are differentiated but underdeveloped. Physiological dormancy can be broken by cold stratification at 5ºC or application of gibberelic acid.

  • 10/05/2020
  • Orthodox Seed Banking

Seeds from the DBG accessions have been sent to USDA NLGRP (Fort Collins, CO) for long term cold storage.

  • 10/05/2020
  • Orthodox Seed Banking

The National Tropical Botanical Garden has received 4,080 seeds from two of these DBG accessions, and maintains them in cold storage.

  • 10/05/2020
  • Orthodox Seed Banking

Desert Botanical Garden (DBG) has collected and is currently storing multiple seed accessions in cold storage that were collected in 2015 and 2016. (Approx. 20,000 seeds between all accessions):

  • 10/05/2020
  • Seed Collection

Desert Botanical Garden (DBG) has collected and is currently storing multiple seed accessions in cold storage that were collected in 2015 and 2016. (Approx. 20,000 seeds between all accessions)

Danika Setaro
  • 11/01/2018

Number of Occurrences: 1 – 5.  The populations of this species are small, disjunct, and infrequently found even within its range. Reintroduction to Agua Caliente Park in Arizona has been attempted with little success so far.

Danika Setaro
  • 11/01/2018

  • Long term monitoring of wild and transplanted populations to include information on:
    • lifespan
    • herbivores
    • pollinators/pollinator success
    • reproductive potential
    • patterns of seed dispersal, germination, and seedling establishment
    • effects of woody plant encroachment
    • ethnobotanical/medicinal potential—other plants in this genus produce cytotoxic and anti-inflamatory compounds
  • Re-establish at sites with suitable habitat in order to increase the number of populations.
  • Conservation through cultivation might be one avenue because other species in this genus are cultivated as ornamentals.

Danika Setaro
  • 11/01/2018

According to NatureServe and scientists researching this species the threats to Eryngium sparganophyllum are:

  • Overall Threat Impact: The threat to Eryngium sparganophyllum is Very High to Medium. This species is primarily threatened due to the loss of its obligate riparian and marsh (wetland/ciénega) habitats. According to Makings (2013) this loss of habitat is due to disturbances associated with livestock grazing, groundwater extraction, woody species encroachment, and human development.
  • Short-Term Trend: Recent trends indicates there has been a decline of 10%—50% in the population.
  • Long-term Trend: Based on recent trends it is likely that there will be an eventual decrease of greater than 70% of the population due to approximately 95% loss of its obligate wetland/ciénega habitats to grazing, development, and other previously mentioned threats
  • Intrinsic Vulnerability: Wetlands in the Southwest areas are often heavily disturbed due to grazing, groundwater pumping, and development, as well as introduction of non-native species and woody species encroachment that could potentially compete with E. sparganophyllum for resources.
  • Environmental Specificity: E. sparganophyllum has a narrow environmental specificity due to its obligate wetland requirements.
  • Conservation Considerations: E. sparganophyllum is rare and endangered in the United States—likely extirpated in New Mexico and limited to a few vulnerable ciénegas in Arizona.

Danika Setaro
  • 11/01/2018

  • In 1976 research was published on the Umbelliferae (Apiaceae) family, including E. sparganophyllum, which was reported to have a 2n = 16 chromosome count.
  • In 2013 and 2014 Dustin Wolkis conducted research on multiple ciéngas in Arizona that included plant community composition and associated ecological data. E. sparganophyllum was part of the plant communities at one of these locations, which provided much needed information about this species including community composition and soil characteristics.
  • In 2015 through 2017 Desert Botanical Garden conducted seed germination experiments which revealed that:
    • E. sparganophyllum seeds have morphophysiological dormancy. At seed maturity the embryos are differentiated but underdeveloped.
    • Physiological dormancy can be broken by cold stratification at 5ºC or application of gibberelic acid.
  • In 2016 Pima County Native Plant Nursery conducted a seed germination experiment and transplant experiment.
    • Cold stratification was required to break dormancy for the germination experiment.
    • The transplant experiment provided some knowledge about survivorship under restoration conditions.
  • In April 2018 demographic, ecological, and plant community information was collected from the wild Arizona populations.
  • In 2018 a Pima County Native Plant Nursery began a new transplant experiment that is still underway as of October 2018.

Danika Setaro
  • 11/01/2018

  • Restoration has been conducted at Agua Caliente Park in Arizona, a location where E. sparganophyllum had been extirpated. E. sparganophyllum has been reintroduced at this location via two different projects.
    • The first project conducted in 2016 was not very successful due to javelina digging them up and poor suitability of the planting locations (water stress, lack of regular root inundation, less than ideal soil characteristics, and possibly being planted too deep).
    • The second project at Agua Caliente Park that was started in 2018 to monitor the thirty individuals that were outplanted is still in progress. It will include population information, soil characteristics, and development of a long term monitoring protocol. These individuals are fenced off to prevent javelina from digging them or damage from other herbivores.
  • In February 2017 E. sparganophyllum was added to the BLM sensitive list.
  • As of March 1, 2018 the New Mexico Rare Plant List R-E-D Code for E. sparganophyllum is 2-3-1.
    • 2: occurrence confined to several populations or to one extended population
    • 3: endangered throughout its range
    • 1: more or less widespread outside New Mexico
  • In April 2018 the Center for Biological Diversity petitioned to have E. sparganophyllum listed as Endangered per the Endangered Species Act.
  • Currently the Arizona Native Plant Law does not protect this plant from salvage or harvest.

Danika Setaro
  • 11/01/2018

Desert Botanical Garden (DBG) has collected and is currently storing multiple seed accessions in cold storage that were collected in 2015 and 2016. (Approx. 20,000 seeds between all accessions):

  • The National Tropical Botanical Garden has received 4,080 seeds from two of these DBG accessions, and maintains them in cold storage.
  • Seeds from the DBG accessions have been sent to USDA NLGRP (Fort Collins, CO) for long term cold storage.
  • Desert Botanical Garden has germinated and raised from seed multiple individuals from these seed accessions.
    • One of these individuals is planted at DBG Oasis pond.
    • In 2016 DBG provided seed to Pima County Nursery for a propagation experiment. Approximately 130 seedlings germinated from that experiment.
      • Ten of those seedlings were transferred to Boyce Thomson Arboretum, where they are being maintained in a shade house until outplanting can take place.
      • The majority of the seedlings remain at Pima County Native Plant Nursery and are currently being maintained in the shade house for future outplanting at Agua Caliente Park and/or other suitable sites.
      • In 2018, Thirty-five of these seedlings were outplanted for a survivorship and monitoring experiment. Thirty were planted at different locations at Agua Caliente Park, and five were planted at La Cebedilla as a control.
    • In 2016 DBG also provided 21 one-gallon potted plants to Pima County Native Plant Nursery for a transplant experiment. These individuals were later outplanted to different areas in Agua Caliente Park by a subcontractor in September and October of 2017.

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Nomenclature
Taxon Eryngium sparganophyllum
Authority Hemsl.
Family Apiaceae
CPC Number 8017
ITIS 29504
USDA ERSP10
Common Names Arizona eryngo
Associated Scientific Names Eryngium sparganophyllum
Distribution Eryngium sparganophyllum is a regional endemic, occurring in Arizona and Mexico. Historically, the range of E. sparganophyllum included locations in Hidalgo and Grant Counties in New Mexico (Sivinski and Lightfoot, 1995). Currently the range includes Arizona north and east of Tucson, Pima County, along the Agua Caliente and west of Tanque Verde Wash. It was recently collected by Makings 2003 (ARIZ 369487) in the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area on the Upper San Pedro River floodplain, in Cochise County. 

The range also extends south into the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Sonora, and possibly in Durango, although the specimen collected there was sterile and no other observations or collections have been made from Durango in recent decades. The most recently observed Mexican population is located in Sonora. Based on different flowering time and habitat the collections made from Michoacán and Guerrero are now currently though likely to be a separate taxon, and the herbarium specimens associated with collections thought to have been made in Zacatecas, Nayarit, and Jalisco have not been able to be verified, so these were probably cited in error and this species is likely not found in those states. 
State Rank
State State Rank
Arizona S1
New Mexico SH
Habitat

Eryngium sparganophyllum occurs in riparian areas (outside the flood/scour zone)/wetlands/ciénegas within Pinon-Juniper Woodlands, Madrean Evergreen Woodlands (a mild winter-wet summer woodland of oaks and pines such as the Emory Oak and Chihuahua pine), and Desertscrub plant communities. This species requires adequate soil moisture, soil organic matter, and occurs in alkaline often thermal spring fed ciénegas. Associated Taxa include Almutaster pauciflorus (alkali marsh aster), Andropogon glomeratus (bushy bluestem), Anemopsis californica (yerba mansa), Arbutus sp. (madrone), Asclepias subverticillata (horsetail milkweed), Carex praegracilis (clustered field sedge), Distichlis spicata (saltgrass), Echinochloa crus-galli (large barnyard grass), Eleocharis sp. (spikerush), Eustoma exaltatum (catchfly prairie gentian), Fraxinus velutina (velvet ash), Helianthus annuus (annual sunflower), Hopia obtusa (vine mesquite), Isocoma tenuisecta (burrowed), Juncus balticus subsp. balticus (mountain rush), Juncus mexicanus (Mexican rush), Juncus sp. (rush), Lobelia cardinalis (Cardinal flower), Lythrum californicum (California loosestrife), Muhlenbergia asperifolia (alkali muhly), Muhlenbergia rigens (deer grass), Populus fremontii (Fremont cottonwood), Prosopis velutina (velvet mesquite), Salix gooddingii (Goodding's Black Willow), Schoenoplectus (=Scirpus) americanus (American bulrush), Schoenoplectus californicus (California bulrush), Sisyrinchium demissum (blue-eyed grass), Sporobolus wrightii (big sacaton), and Typha spp. (cattail). The species has been reported at elevations of 3,000 feet near Tucson, Arizona, approximately 4,250 feet in New Mexico.

Ecological Relationships

Observed Pollinators:

Hummingbirds
Honey Bees
Native Bees
​Crematogaster sp. (Ant)
Tetligoniidae-Phaneroptero (katydid)
Poecilanthrax (Bee fly)
Sphedidae (thread-wasted wasps)
Ammophila (hunting-wasps)
Polistes sp.  (Paper wasp)
Campsomeris tolteca (Scoliid wasp)
Myzinum quinquecinctum (Five-banded Tiphiid Wasp)
Gasteruption sp. (Carrot wasp)
Dymasia dymas (tiny checkerspot butterfly)
Danaus gilippus (queen butterfly)
Bombyliidae Spragueia magnifica  (Noctuid moth)
Buprestid beetle 

Other Observed Invertebrates:
Acrididae (Toothpick grasshopper)
Lampyridae (Firefly)
Lynx spider
Zelus sp. (Assassin bug)
Asilidae (Robber fly)
Jalysus sp. (Stilt Bug)
Weevils
Crematogaster farming aphids

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

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