Hidden Biodiversity

The Franciscan manzanita, Arctostaphylos franciscana, is San Francisco's unicorn. The Franciscan manzanita is a subtly charming flowering shrub found nowhere else on Earth. Its tragic history is filled with heroic acts by botanists striving to keep the species alive. In 1906, the specimens first used to identify the species were rescued from the California Academy of Sciences by botanist Alice Eastwood as fires driven by the San Francisco earthquake ravaged the Academy’s collections. In 1947 Alice Eastwood and others stood in front of bulldozers to wrest the last known wild plants from a construction site. The plants were sent to the Tilden botanical garden across the bay, and no one found the plant in the wild again.

But in 2009, ecologist Daniel Gluesenkamp spotted a suspicious shrub in an area being cleared of vegetation for the Doyle Drive road-widening project in San Francisco's Presidio. To the delight of botanists worldwide, the shrub turned out to be a Franciscan manzanita, still surviving in the wild.

The manzanita was carefully dug up and re-planted. Today, the manzanita occupies a protected 7-square-foot patch of hillside in the Presidio, where it is cared for. Seeds and cuttings have been taken and nurtured as well in a plan to reintroduce the rare plant.

What other hidden biodiversity is in our city? Maybe it's hiding in your backyard, or in your favorite park? Keep your eyes open, and continue to observe and document the biodiversity all around us!

Publicado el 24 de marzo de 2014 a las 09:18 PM por kestrel kestrel


Hey Alison - looks like the third anniversary of this great project is coming up. Thanks for creating this. I love my wanderlust of this tiny county + insatiable curiousity = data that...makes other think.

Anotado por robberfly hace cerca de 6 años

I purchased a Franciscan Manzanita from Styrbing Arboretum when the plant was considered extinct in the wild, i.e., pre 2009. Can someone help me to identify my plant as, in fact, arctostaphylos franciscana?

Anotado por bjlsf hace cerca de 6 años

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