North Park phacelia grows on barren sandy soils in North Park, Colorado near the town of Walden. In this photo, botanists are taking genetic samples of the species to analyze its genetic similarity to other Phacelia species in Colorado.
Photo credit: USFWS
North Park phacelia (Phacelia formosula) is a member of the waterleaf family (Hydrophyllaceae) is found in âNorth Parkâ of north central Colorado, near the small town of Walden. The bright purple flowers and lobed leaf margins make this species easy to spot in July and August. The plant is a biennial, surviving for one year as a rosette of leaves before flowering and dying the following year. The plant is found on barren exposures of the Coalmont Formation that are easily eroded (see the habitat pictures). Roughly 16,000 individuals are known from six separate populations and the entire species is known from an area measuring roughly 10 miles in either direction (north to south, east to west).
The species was discovered, at one location, in 1918 by the Colorado botanist, George Osterhout. Additional sites were not located until 1979. Because of the limited distribution, small population sizes and threats to the species, North Park phacelia was listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act in 1982. Threats to the species today include: heavy livestock use, off-road vehicle traffic, oil and gas development, residential development, a lack of regulatory mechanisms, and potential effects from climate change.
Genetic and taxonomic research into the speciesâ relationships with close relatives in Larimer and Grand counties is underway. Further locations of these Phacelia are being sought to better understand these relationships.
Several populations of North park phacelia occur either partially or wholly on private and State lands. Conservation actions on these properties are voluntary. Funding is available to landowners wanting to conserve the species. Please contact Gina Glenne or Ellen Mayo at 970-243-2778 for further information on this species and ways that you can help with conservation and recovery.
April 8, 2014
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