Rare Plant Recovery
The Garden has undertaken a rare plant recovery and restoration effort for three rare plants which will not only benefit those plants themselves, but also the plants and pollinators in the community as a whole.
While investigating the threats and life histories of the rare plants, we are also describing their associated plant species and insect visitors, in order to define their plant-pollinator networks. This will increase our understanding of the system in which these rare plants live, ultimately helping us to conduct habitat restoration.
In the meantime, our conservation collections will serve as an insurance policy for the species as well as a source for subsequent population recovery efforts.
Lompoc yerba santa
Eriodictyon capitatum (Lompoc yerba santa) is a Federally Endangered and State Rare shrub in the waterleaf family. It is known from only three locations in Santa Barbara County. This species forms clones which have low genetic diversity, which is one reason why it has low seed production. Other identified threats include invasive non-native plant species. Because this species cannot pollinate itself, insect pollinators are likely key to improve seed production, however its pollination biology (and how that is affected by plant invaders) is little known.
Mimulus fremontii var. vandenbergensis (Vandenberg mimulus, now classified as Diplacus vandenbergensis) is an annual herb in the lopseed (Phrymaceae) family, which is Proposed Endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. It is restricted to the sandy soils of the Burton Mesa area around the city of Lompoc. It is threatened by development, vehicles, and non-native plants, as well as small population sizes. Its species biology and population trends are virtually unknown, and demographic monitoring has not been conducted.
Santa Cruz Island bush mallow
Malacothamnus fasciculatus var. nesioticus (Santa Cruz Island bush mallow) is a state and federally endangered shrub in the mallow family, restricted to eight populations on Santa Cruz Island. Small population sizes, low genetic diversity, and low reproductive rates threaten this species. Although it is able to self-pollinate, insect pollination has enhanced seed set. A better understanding of pollinator networks and densities on the island will help in the conservation of this species.