The making of a Super Bloom: large-scale reintroduction of an endangered California annual

Vanessa Handley, University of California Botanical Garden

University of California Botanical Garden (UCBG) has long been engaged in recovery efforts for State and Federally endangered large-flowered fiddleneck, Amsinckia grandiflora. Initially UCBG staff focused on creating a substantial seed bank for the species and, through nursery augmentation of wild-collections, generated a bank of over 100,000 seed (stored along maternal lines). In 2016, a subset of this seed was deployed for a large-scale reintroduction effort at three sites in San Joaquin County, California. The reintroduction was conducted in partnership with Vollmar Natural Lands Consulting (with funding from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation) and entailed cultivation and outplanting of over 4000 seedlings. This endeavor – made more challenging by severe terrain and freezing winter rains – resulted in modest persistence in 2017, followed by a banner spring in 2018. UCBG staff and volunteers completed a supplementary round of outplanting this past winter and, by March, all three introduction sites were awash with orange – the Amsinckia grandiflora Super Bloom! This exciting outcome was potentiated by engagement of diverse stakeholders: environmental consultants, multiple agency partners, public and private landowners and UCBG. While the taxon still has a long path to recovery, this preliminary success is a testament to the power of these partnerships. Our recovery implementation strategy will be discussed.