A close-up image of a plant with small pink flowers against a green background

Conservation Projects
Protecting biological diversity

Conservation of plant biodiversity is central to the Garden’s mission, and much of this work happens ‘behind-the-scenes’. We’re excited to share news about the Garden’s partnership with the Mt. Diablo Buckwheat Working Group, a consortium of local stakeholders including California State Parks, among others, working together to preserve Mt. Diablo buckwheat (Eriogonom truncatum).

UCBG Curator Holly Forbes presented at the Mary Bowerman Science and Research 2022 Colloquium. Her presentation focused on the Garden’s Eriogonum truncatum conservation work, and partnership with the Mt. Diablo Buckwheat Working Group. Watch Forbes’ presentation via Youtube here. Fast forward to hear her remarks, located at 2:06 on the video timeline.

Eriogonum truncatum was once thought to be extinct locally until found in 2005 by UC Berkeley graduate student, Michael Park. Before its 2005 rediscovery, little had been known about it. The plant has been recorded from just seven locations historically, the last in 1936 by botanist Mary Bowerman who later became the co-founder of Save Mount Diablo. It was presumed to be globally extinct before its 2005 discovery at a single site in Mt. Diablo State Park.

A woman sitting on a hillside of dirt and brown plants, making a small wire cage around a plant

Garden Curator Holly Forbes building protective cages around endangered Mt. Diablo buckwheat plants.

This single known population discovered in 2005 contained approximately 20 plants. There was concern that the small population could be wiped out in a blink of an eye—by humans, grazing cattle or foraging animals. The existing fragile plants were protected via wire cages, and a modest seed collection was undertaken, spearheaded by UCBG Curator Holly Forbes.

Seeds were planted and germinated in the UCBG nursery, with plants flowering by June 2006. Plant propagation and seed collection has continued in the ensuing years. In 2016, more plants were discovered in the Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve, expanding the opportunity to study the species’ habitat. Re-introduction of plants in the Mt. Diablo region is ongoing, with mixed results.

Preserving endangered species is a key tenet of the Garden’s mission and we’re thrilled to contribute to this important work to help curb species loss and habitat degradation.

© 2022 UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley