Search for the Rare Ben Lomond Buckwheat
Photos by Natalie McNear
Rare Plant Treasure Hunts are under way! Since May, the RPTH project staff and volunteers have collected data from more than 20 outings. Thanks to these surveys, the RPTH has added 14 new occurrences. All of this new activity has been coordinated through CNPS Rare Plant Treasure Hunt Manager Amy Patten, who joined the team in May to help CNPS expand this special effort.
On July 12, Amy led a a group to the summit of Mount Hermon in the Santa Cruz Sandhills to find and map occurrences of the rare Ben Lomond buckwheat (Eriogonum nudum var. decurrens, 1B.1). Joining Amy as a co-leader of the July treasure hunt was Rebekah Boettcher, a naturalist from the Mount Hermon Association. The association owns the land and was kind enough to host our walk.
CNPS is happy to report that the group found a few thousand individuals and was able to expand the known area of the occurrence! The team also observed the rare Ben Lomond spineflower (Chorizanthe pungens var. hartwegiana, 1B.1).
The Sandhills location is a unique ecosystem limited to about 6,000 acres in Santa Cruz County and is home to many rare plants. Much of this habitat has been lost to development, so CNPS is working to document rare species to help prevent further habitat loss.