Showy stickseed (Hackelia venusta) is one of Washington’s rarest plants and is listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Rare Care is working with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and US Forest Service to develop a better understanding of its habitat requirements and methods for successfully propagating the plant and establishing it in the wild.
This species appears to prefer a specific soil environment consisting of unstable sandy materials on steep slopes. Rare Care along with UW soil scientist Professor Darlene Zabowski and her graduate students are characterizing the soil environment and how showy stickseed utilizes it, including rooting depth, structure, and associations with mycorrhizae. The project also includes characterization of tree and shrub encroachment into the population and research into alternative control methods. Light meters were installed at the site to understand whether overstory canopy facilitates or hinders showy stickseed versus understory competition with shrubs such as shiny-leaf spirea (Spiraea lucida). The soils and vegetation work will provide a better understanding of the habitat requirements of showy stickseed that can be used to identify new sites where populations can be established. The final element of the project is to improve the germination and propagation protocols and conduct experimental outplantings.
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