CPC Plant Profile: Cienega False Rush
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Plant Profile

Cienega False Rush (Lilaeopsis schaffneriana var. recurva)

A cienega, or marshy wetland, is typified by a fluctuating water supply, gentle stream gradients, and mild winters. Lilaeopsis plays an integral role in a cienega, particularly after spring flooding. Photo Credit: Lynda Pritchett-Kozak
Description
  • Global Rank: T2 - Imperiled
  • Legal Status: Federally Endangered
  • Family: Apiaceae
  • State: AZ
  • Nature Serve ID: 151674
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 02/09/1992

Lilaeopsis schaffneriana var. recurva is a herbaceous semi-aquatic perennial growing in marshy wetlands in Arizona (Affolter 1985, Hendrickson and Minckley 1984, Falk and Warren 1994). This species rhizomes creep along streambeds and form dense mats (Affolter 1985). Tiny 3-10 flowered umbels grow from the nodes along the rhizomes. From March through October small greenish flowers adorn this plant giving way to red fruits in late fall.

Participating Institutions
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Updates
Center for Plant Conservation
  • 12/02/2021
  • Reintroduction

The Huachuca water umbel (HWU, Lilaeopsis schaffneriana ssp. recurva) is a federally endangered aquatic perennial plant endemic to southeastern Arizona and northern Sonora, Mexico. The species was listed because of threats posed by the degradation and loss of wetlands throughout its limited range. Although the species is easily grown in a greenhouse, information regarding specific requirements that allow long-term persistence of HWU in natural habitats is lacking, and few efforts to reintroduce this species have been attempted. Using greenhouse-propagated material, A. Y. Cantillo and SUNY introduced 128 indidivual HWU plugs into four spring-fed wetland sites near Elgin, Arizona. The sites represent a range of habitat conditions. After two years, overall survival of transplanted plyugs was 60% and the area occupied had increased by 845%. This study documented the response of transplanted HWU to perdiodic drying, disturbance due to scouring and trampling, and sediment deposition. We also examined the number of viable seeds incorporated into a seed bank at the study location in the first season after transplanting. This case study offers a model for watershedwide reintroduction efforts of endangered plants. It also illustrates the importance of low-level disturbances and the necessity of long-term monitoring and maintenance of competing plant species in establishing viable species reintroductions.


  • 10/17/2020
  • Living Collection

Currently, Lilaeopsis is held at the Desert Botanical Garden in the form of live plants. Although the plants are easily grown and propagated vegetatively, they seldom flower in conventional cultivation. There is a crucial need to establish a genetically representative seed bank of this plant, and to investigate seed storage and germination requirements.

  • 10/17/2020
  • Demographic Research

The Goal of the Desert Botanic Garden is to understand the genetic variation and reproductive biology in Lilaeopsis schaffneriana var. recurva in order to inform in-situ preservations, ex-situ collections, and reintroduction efforts. Shannon Fehlberg performed a project over multiple years using the following methods: (1) sampled within (24 individuals each) and between populations (13 of the 20 extant populations). This included the populations located in Southern Arizona and also a few populations in Mexico; (2) Two rounds of micro-satellite screening of 97 loci yielded 8 variable/usable loci for analysis. Most of this work was funded by the Fish and Wildlife Service (Section 6 funds). Results of this project: (1) determined if plants grew clonally and what was the extent of clonal growth in populations. (Very clonal! All individual samples were the same genetically in most populations); (2) determined if populations were different from one another. (There was a positive relationship between genetic and geographic distance); (3) determined if watersheds were different from one another (they were different). All the genetics work performed in the field has facilitated the following: (1) the ability to use genetics to identify the original source of unidentified plant material (i.e. Phoenix Zoo) which is helpful because that becomes another viable source for restoration; (2) now have the ability to determine appropriate material for reintroductions; (3) able to confirm the maintenance of separate maternal lineages in the living collection (field gene bank). Lastly, the point that needs to be reiterated is that this plant is endangered due to the loss of water in the wild because when this plant is brought into the garden setting it is so incredibly easy to propagate when water is available. (McCue et al. 2018)

  • 10/17/2020
  • Propagation Research

The Goal of the Desert Botanic Garden is to understand the genetic variation and reproductive biology in Lilaeopsis schaffneriana var. recurva in order to inform in-situ preservations, ex-situ collections, and reintroduction efforts. Shannon Fehlberg performed a project over multiple years using the following methods: (1) sampled within (24 individuals each) and between populations (13 of the 20 extant populations). This included the populations located in Southern Arizona and also a few populations in Mexico; (2) Two rounds of micro-satellite screening of 97 loci yielded 8 variable/usable loci for analysis. Most of this work was funded by the Fish and Wildlife Service (Section 6 funds). Results of this project: (1) determined if plants grew clonally and what was the extent of clonal growth in populations. (Very clonal! All individual samples were the same genetically in most populations); (2) determined if populations were different from one another. (There was a positive relationship between genetic and geographic distance); (3) determined if watersheds were different from one another (they were different). All the genetics work performed in the field has facilitated the following: (1) the ability to use genetics to identify the original source of unidentified plant material (i.e. Phoenix Zoo) which is helpful because that becomes another viable source for restoration; (2) now have the ability to determine appropriate material for reintroductions; (3) able to confirm the maintenance of separate maternal lineages in the living collection (field gene bank). Lastly, the point that needs to be reiterated is that this plant is endangered due to the loss of water in the wild because when this plant is brought into the garden setting it is so incredibly easy to propagate when water is available. (McCue et al. 2018) Currently, Lilaeopsis is held at the Desert Botanical Garden in the form of live plants. Although the plants are easily grown and propagated vegetatively, they seldom flower in conventional cultivation. There is a crucial need to establish a genetically representative seed bank of this plant, and to investigate seed storage and germination requirements.

  • 10/17/2020
  • Reproductive Research

The Goal of the Desert Botanic Garden is to understand the genetic variation and reproductive biology in Lilaeopsis schaffneriana var. recurva in order to inform in-situ preservations, ex-situ collections, and reintroduction efforts. Shannon Fehlberg performed a project over multiple years using the following methods: (1) sampled within (24 individuals each) and between populations (13 of the 20 extant populations). This included the populations located in Southern Arizona and also a few populations in Mexico; (2) Two rounds of micro-satellite screening of 97 loci yielded 8 variable/usable loci for analysis. Most of this work was funded by the Fish and Wildlife Service (Section 6 funds). Results of this project: (1) determined if plants grew clonally and what was the extent of clonal growth in populations. (Very clonal! All individual samples were the same genetically in most populations); (2) determined if populations were different from one another. (There was a positive relationship between genetic and geographic distance); (3) determined if watersheds were different from one another (they were different). All the genetics work performed in the field has facilitated the following: (1) the ability to use genetics to identify the original source of unidentified plant material (i.e. Phoenix Zoo) which is helpful because that becomes another viable source for restoration; (2) now have the ability to determine appropriate material for reintroductions; (3) able to confirm the maintenance of separate maternal lineages in the living collection (field gene bank). Lastly, the point that needs to be reiterated is that this plant is endangered due to the loss of water in the wild because when this plant is brought into the garden setting it is so incredibly easy to propagate when water is available. (McCue et al. 2018)

  • 10/17/2020
  • Genetic Research

The Goal of the Desert Botanic Garden is to understand the genetic variation and reproductive biology in Lilaeopsis schaffneriana var. recurva in order to inform in-situ preservations, ex-situ collections, and reintroduction efforts. Shannon Fehlberg performed a project over multiple years using the following methods: (1) sampled within (24 individuals each) and between populations (13 of the 20 extant populations). This included the populations located in Southern Arizona and also a few populations in Mexico; (2) Two rounds of micro-satellite screening of 97 loci yielded 8 variable/usable loci for analysis. Most of this work was funded by the Fish and Wildlife Service (Section 6 funds). Results of this project: (1) determined if plants grew clonally and what was the extent of clonal growth in populations. (Very clonal! All individual samples were the same genetically in most populations); (2) determined if populations were different from one another. (There was a positive relationship between genetic and geographic distance); (3) determined if watersheds were different from one another (they were different). All the genetics work performed in the field has facilitated the following: (1) the ability to use genetics to identify the original source of unidentified plant material (i.e. Phoenix Zoo) which is helpful because that becomes another viable source for restoration; (2) now have the ability to determine appropriate material for reintroductions; (3) able to confirm the maintenance of separate maternal lineages in the living collection (field gene bank). Lastly, the point that needs to be reiterated is that this plant is endangered due to the loss of water in the wild because when this plant is brought into the garden setting it is so incredibly easy to propagate when water is available. (McCue et al. 2018). Once all the valuable information was gathered from Shannon Fehlberg's genetics research, the next step was to evaluate the ex-situ collection that had been at the Desert Botanical Garden for many years. Written records indicated that these plants represented collections from different population sites throughout the range therefore should be deemed as distinct and capable of being matched up from the different populations that had genetic work performed. Since these plants had been there for so many years, possibly divided, transplanted, etc., it was imperative that sampling be performed on the ex-situ collection to verify that the plants were indeed matched correctly. At one point in time, the Desert Botanical Garden donated excess plant material to the Phoenix Zoo. This plant material was subsequently planted along a stream at the Zoo and flourished but over time the information of which population was the source for this material was lost so a study was conducted to match this material to its origin. (McCue et al. 2018)

Elvia Ryan
  • 08/01/2018

Once all the valuable information was gathered from Shannon Fehlberg's genetics research, the next step was to evaluate the ex-situ collection that had been at the Desert Botanical Garden for many years.  Written records indicated that these plants represented collections from different population sites throughout the range therefore should be deemed as distinct and capable of being matched up from the different populations that had genetic work performed.  Since these plants had been there for so many years, possibly divided, transplanted, etc., it was imperative that sampling be performed on the ex-situ collection to verify that the plants were indeed matched correctly. At one point in time, the Desert Botanical Garden donated excess plant material to the Phoenix Zoo.  This plant material was subsequently planted along a stream at the Zoo and flourished but over time the information of which population was the source for this material was lost so a study was conducted to match this material to its origin.  (McCue et al. 2018)

Elvia Ryan
  • 08/01/2018

The Goal of the Desert Botanic Garden is to understand the genetic variation and reproductive biology in Lilaeopsis schaffneriana var. recurva in order to inform in-situ preservations, ex-situ collections, and reintroduction efforts.  Shannon Fehlberg performed a project over multiple years using the following methods:  (1) sampled within (24 individuals each) and between populations (13 of the 20 extant populations).  This included the populations located in Southern Arizona and also a few populations in Mexico; (2) Two rounds of micro-satellite screening of 97 loci yielded 8 variable/usable loci for analysis. Most of this work was funded by the Fish and Wildlife Service (Section 6 funds).  Results of this project:  (1) determined if plants grew clonally and what was the extent of clonal growth in populations.  (Very clonal!  All individual samples were the same genetically in most populations); (2) determined if populations were different from one another.  (There was a positive relationship between genetic and geographic distance);  (3) determined if watersheds were different from one another (they were different).   All the genetics work performed in the field has facilitated the following:  (1) the ability to use genetics to identify the original source of unidentified plant material (i.e. Phoenix Zoo) which is helpful because that becomes another viable source for restoration;  (2) now have the ability to determine appropriate material for reintroductions;  (3) able to confirm the maintenance of separate maternal lineages in the living collection (field gene bank).  Lastly, the point that needs to be reiterated is that this plant is endangered due to the loss of water in the wild because when this plant is brought into the garden setting it is so incredibly easy to propagate when water is available.  (McCue et al. 2018)

Elvia Ryan
  • 07/31/2018

The primary reason that Lilaeopsis schaffneriana var. recurva is endangered is the decline of the cienegas.  The cienegas in turn are becoming extirpated and degraded due to human related activities.  More and more people are moving into Arizona placing a huge demand on water resources.  Although Arizona gets water from the Colorado river it also gets water from groundwater sources.  Groundwater is therefore pumped, the springs go dry causing the spring fed cienegas to dry up . (McCue et al. 2018)

Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

Known to be extant at 15 sites in Santa Cruz and Cochise counties, Arizona and adjacent Sonora, Mexico. Six documented populations have been extirpated, and probably many more that were undocumented, as most of the taxon's mid-elevation wetland (cienega) habitat has been lost, seriously degraded, or is in danger of being destroyed due to growing water demands and associated diversions and impoundments, uncontrolled livestock grazing, introduction of invasive non-native plant species, sand and gravel mining, and other threats. Most of the 15 remaining populations are probably small remnants of larger populations that are thought to have existed when healthy cienega or cienega-like riparian habitats were far more common in the region.

Kathleen C. Rice
  • 01/01/2010

Threats to Lilaeopsis and its habitat include watershed degradation due to livestock grazing and development, diversion of water and drainage of habitats, and flash flooding (USFWS 1995, 1997).

Kathleen C. Rice
  • 01/01/2010

There are 8 known populations in the U.S. and 4 documented sites in Mexico. The species has been lost from at least four historic sites in Arizona, which may be a result of the general loss and decline of cienega and stream habitats throughout Arizona (USFWS 1997).

Kathleen C. Rice
  • 01/01/2010

None known.

Kathleen C. Rice
  • 01/01/2010

Plants are monitored regularly.

Kathleen C. Rice
  • 01/01/2010

Molecular work would reveal the degree of genetic diversity of this species along the respective drainages. Additional information as to the reproductivity in habitat would be useful. Habitat protection and watershed management are necessary for the survival of this species.

Kathleen C. Rice
  • 01/01/2010

Currently, Lilaeopsis is held at the Desert Botanical Garden in the form of live plants. Although the plants are easily grown and propagated vegetatively, they seldom flower in conventional cultivation. There is a crucial need to establish a genetically representative seed bank of this plant, and to investigate seed storage and germination requirements.

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Nomenclature
Taxon Lilaeopsis schaffneriana var. recurva
Authority (A.W. Hill) Affolter
Family Apiaceae
CPC Number 9357
ITIS 182174
USDA LISCR
Common Names Cienega false-rush | Huachuca water umbel | Schaffner's grasswort
Associated Scientific Names Lilaeopsis schaffneriana var. recurva
Distribution This species is known from southeastern Arizona and northern Mexico.
State Rank
State State Rank
Arizona S2
Habitat

The habitat preferred by Lilaeopsis is in cienegas, or marshy wetlands at elevations ranging from 4,000 to 6,000 feet (Marrs-Smith 1983, Hendrickson and Minckley 1984). It requires perennial water, gentle stream gradients, and mild winters (Gori et al. 1990) . Associated vegetation includes willow, alder and cottonwood, cattails, rushes, sedges, grasses and watercress Hendrickson and Minckley 1984). It may be largely spread vegetatively, with small fragments drifting downstream and rooting, thus having little genetic diversity (Warren et al. 1989, 1991). Plants are vegetatively reduced during cooler months, resuming active growth in March (USFWS 1995, 1997). Lilaeopsis is one of the first established plants after spring floods 'scour out' a riparian system. If competition with other plants becomes excessive, Lilaeopsis will decline due to root crowding and shading.

Ecological Relationships

The success of this species is closely tied to water fluctuations in spring. It is often the first species to appear after spring flooding.

Pollinators
Common Name Name in Text Association Type Source InteractionID
Reintroduction
Lead Institution State Reintroduction Type Year of First Outplanting
SUNY-Fredonia Arizona Reintroduction 2003
Fort Huachuca Arizona Reintroduction 2009
Fort Huachuca New Mexico Reintroduction 2009
Fort Huachuca Arizona Reintroduction 2009
Fort Huachuca Arizona Reintroduction 2009
Fort Huachuca Arizona Reintroduction 2010
Fort Huachuca Arizona Reintroduction 2010
Fort Huachuca Arizona Reintroduction 2010

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