Searching for the Elusive Mist-Maiden

One of my favorite parts about this internship is getting to learn about the different facets of the Cordova Forest Service Station.  Apart from Wildlife projects, I sometimes get to lend a hand on projects with other crews.  The most recent project I’ve joined was looking for the rare forb Romanzoffia unalaschensis.

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Pls with the petioles of the foliage lvs strongly dilated below and overlapping to form a bulbous base, sometimes also producing axillary, nonrooting bulbils in late season, but without the distinctive “tubers” of nos 1 and 2; pls otherwise much as in no2, but ave a bit smaller, (0.5) 1-2 (3) dm; wet cliffs and ledges in the mts, sometimes above timberl, and descending to floor of CRG; n cordilleran sp, s to n Ore and rarely n Cal; Sitka m.

Flora of the Pacific Northwest

At the start of my internship, I had spent some time looking up literature for this forb.  One of my first challenges was trying to translate BotanistSpk (a term I made up to represent to extent of abbreviations used in flora books.) It was actually really fun, like a puzzle.  The second challenge was realizing how little is known about this plant, which goes without saying (it is a rare plant after all.)  However, despite the countless hours I spent searching for information, the best I could come up with was about four articles, and most just included snippets of information about it.  I never thought I would actually spend a few days looking for this very same plant, but for a few days, I joined Girdwood Ecologist Kate Mohatt and Fisheries Technician Sean Meade of Cordova to look for the Romanzoffia around Hawkins and Hinchinbrook Island.  And crazily enough, we found it!

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And not just one…

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Nor two…

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Nor three…but a few dozen! We hit the Romanzoffia hot spot in Port Etches.

In an age where access to so much information is readily available at one’s computer screen, it was astonishing for me to learn that there is so little known about the Romanzoffia unalaschensis. Seed dispersal, population distribution – these subjects and more are left with a question mark.

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Seeds of the Romanzoffia

Still, it was pretty exciting to find a rare plant.

Jimena
cuencaj9@gmail.com
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