LOS ANGELES (AP) — After nearly 20 years on the federal list of endangered and threatened species, a tiny flowering plant that only grows on the shores around a single vernal pool in a Southern California mountain range has recovered.
The Hidden Lake bluecurl will officially be delisted on July 2, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The plant lives high in the San Jacinto Mountains around an ephemeral pool that comes and goes with the seasons.
It was placed on the federal list in 1998 because trampling by hikers and horses and its extremely limited range raised concerns that it might become extinct.
A member of the mint family, the Hidden Lake bluecurl is an annual that grows about 4 inches (10 centimeters) tall and produces blue flowers.
The recovery came about through protection of the habitat in Mount San Jacinto State Park.
Bluecurl seeds have also been stored in a seed bank so that plants can be reintroduced into the wild in case the natural population is somehow wiped out.
The Fish and Wildlife Service credited the recovery to its partnership between the California Department of Parks and Recreation, Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden and other partners.
“California has one of the highest concentrations of geographically restricted plants in the United States,” Paul Souza, director of the service’s Pacific Southwest Region, said in a statement. “We are fortunate to have an array of dedicated partners to help ensure species like the bluecurls can be conserved for future generations.”
The San Jacinto Mountains rise steeply about 100 miles (160 kilometers) east of Los Angeles. Palm Springs and the other desert resorts of the Coachella Valley lie below the eastern edge of the range. The state park and wilderness rest on its western flank.
Hidden Lake sits an elevation of 8,700 feet (2,650 meters). It covers approximately 2 acres (1 hectare) and is 4 feet (1.3 meters) deep when it is completely full, usually from November to April, and then recedes over ensuing months. Sometimes it totally dries out. The plants usually flower between July and September.
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