New Wildflower Species Discovered at the Panoche Valley Preserve

  |   CNLM News

CNLM is happy to announce the official recognition of a newly-discovered species of wildflower which is found on the Panoche Valley Preserve.  This new plant was just given an official botanical name, Navarretia panochensis, the Panoche navarretia.  Navarretia is a genus containing about 50 species of annual wildflowers that are native to the western United States.  The Latin epithet “panochensis” means “from Panoche”.

The new botanical name became official last week, following the April 10 publication of a scientific article by David Gowen and Leigh Johnson in the botanical journal Phytotaxa, and is available on the Phytotaxa website:  These two authors have discovered and described other new Navarretia speices, including the Navarretia gowenii, which was named after the lead author.

Photo by Neal Kramer

During the second half of the 20th century, several botanists had collected some of these plants and preserved them as herbarium specimens in museums and universities, but the collected plants had been considered to be other already-existing Navarretia species, such as N. nigelliformisN. pubescens, and N. mitracarpa.  Then, in 2008, the lead author noticed some unique features in the plants on one of these preserved museum specimens, and that led him to make a visit to the Panoche Valley where he found a number of unique leaf and flower characteristics that separate these new plants from other related plants.

Because there are very few known locations, the total number of plants is very small, and the populations fluctuate widely from year to year, this new species would be categorized as an endangered species in the IUCN Red List. Of the six known locations, two are on CNLM’s Panoche Valley Preserve, two are on other private land, and two are on BLM land. CNLM Preserve Managers are committed to protecting this new plant species, and managing natural habitat for its continued existence.

All photos in this article were taken and copyrighted by Neal Kramer.