Conservation of Greenman's Desert Parsley
Greenman's desert parsley (Lomatium greemanii). Photo by Gene Yates.
Greenman's desert parsley habitat. Photo by Gene Yates.
Lomatium greenmanii (Greenman's desert parsley) is endemic to subalpine meadows and rocky outcrops in the Wallowa Mountains of northeast Oregon. Currently, there are three known populations on three widely separated mountaintops: Mount Howard, Ruby Peak, and Redmont Peak. All three occur within the Eagle Cap Ranger District of the Wallowa Whitman National Forest (WWNF). The largest population is found at the summit of Mount Howard. A commercial tram that transports over 30,000 visitors each year to the summit of Mount Howard easily accesses Mount Howard. On the summit, several trails cut through habitat occupied by the desert parsley. Due to its extreme rarity and accessibility to humans, L. greenmanii is vulnerable to trampling.
Lomatium greenmanii is a low-growing perennial herb ranging from three to ten centimeters (1 to 4 inches) in height. Plants produce several glabrous, bright green, pinnately dissected leaves. Numerous small, bright yellow flowers are clustered in compound umbels at the ends of flowering stems.
Lomatium greenmanii occurs between approximately 2,365 and 2,620 meters (7,759 to 8,596 feet) in the Wallowa Mountains of northeast Oregon (Wallowa County). The subalpine habitats occupied by this species consist of meadows or rocky outcroppings dotted with islands of Abies lasiocarpa-Pinus albicaulis (subalpine fir-whitebark pine). Known populations occur on soils derived from specific geologic types. These include volcanic and metavolcanic rock from the upper Triassic, ultramafic and mafic intrusive rocks and serpentinized equivalents from the Triassic and Paleozoic (Mount Howard and vicinity), Grande Ronde Columbia River Basalt Group (Redmont Peak) and Columbia River Basalt Group and related flows from the Miocene (Ruby Peak).
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest have entered into a Candidate Conservation Agreement to conserve Greenman's desert parsley and prevent its listing under the Endangered Species Act. The Forest has undertaken several conservation actions. An interpretive sign has been installed at the summit informing visitors of the fragile subalpine habitat that supports Greenman's desert parsley and summit trails on Mt. Howard have been lined with rocks to define their boundary and help prevent visitors from trampling the desert parsley's habitat.
The Forest has partnered with the USFWS and Joanna Schultz, a research phylogeneticist, to develop a model of suitable habitat, which Forest Service botanists began surveying in 2007. In 2004, Joanna Schultz and the Forest Service implemented a new monitoring protocol designed to be highly systematic and replicable. With the help of student assistants, Ms. Schultz established nine permanent macroplots: seven on Mount Howard and one each on Ruby Peak and Redmont Peak. These monitoring plots have been revisited once, so it is still too soon to determine trends. However, statistical methods have been applied to compare baseline cover data among populations and sub-populations. These data suggest no pattern of reduced or increased cover based on qualitatively assigned disturbance regimes.