Clare Loughran, Assistant Curator
Like many other activities this year, our 2020 conservation field season was heavily impacted by restrictions due to COVID-19. Luckily, the Garden made a few seed collections this year, primarily contributions to the California Biodiversity Initiative, which seeks to bank seeds of the rarest plants in California. Most recently, on November 6th, Garden staff worked with the Solano Land Trust and the Jepson Prairie Preserve to collect seeds of the rare Carquinez goldenbush (Isocoma arguta), a subshrub in the sunflower family (Asteraceae). This plant is known only from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, where it prefers mineral-rich soils and alkali flats. The Carquinez goldenbush is categorized as seriously endangered in California (1B.1) by the California Native Plant Society.
Garden Staff members Vanessa Handley, and Clare Loughran were joined by volunteer Angelica Sauceda, a grad student from UC Davis, in making collections of the precious seed. Jepson Prairie Docent Doug Wirtz was their guide for the day and led them to two healthy populations of the plants. He shared many stories about the plants and ecology of the vernal pools at the Preserve along the way. Conditions were windy and chilly, but spirits were high as everyone was happy to be out into the field. With the tremendous help of these volunteers, the Garden made successful conservation collections at each of the populations visited. We are now in the process of cleaning and counting the seeds collected that day, a labor-intensive but essential phase as we prepare the seeds for storage in freezers at the Garden’s germplasm repository and the National Laboratory for Genetic Resource Preservation. If you would like to learn more about the Garden Seed Bank, check out the video produced for our annual Big Give fundraiser.