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NATURAL HISTORY

ASH MEADOWS GUMPLANT } Grindelia fraxino-pratensis
FAMILY: Asteraceae

DESCRIPTION: The Ash Meadows gumplant is a 28- to 40-inch-tall perennial herbaceous plant with one to several stems rising from a woody root stock and taproot. Typically, gumplants are openly branched with conspicuously resinous leaves throughout; stems are light to red brown, leafy, and branched; leaves are narrow, dark green, leathery, and resin-coated. Multiple individual flowering heads are eight to 10 millimeters in diameter with golden to lemon-yellow florets; flower bracts are covered with a white, gum-like substance.

HABITAT: The Ash Meadows gumplant is usually found in moist saltgrass flats and near “stringer washes” and pools with high groundwater at elevations of 2070 to 2320 feet. The plant is frequently associated with natural springs and salt-encrusted soils, but occasionally grows in drier, alkali-clay soils.

RANGE: The Ash Meadows gumplant is endemic to the Ash Meadows area in southwestern Nye County, Nevada and southeastern Inyo County, California.

LIFE CYCLE: New leaves start growing in June or July; budding occurs from July through August. From June to October, the plant produces daisy-like yellow flowers, with fruit produced in early October. Seed dispersal occurs via wind; seeds are light and can be blown for some distance. Seeds falling near the parent plant may also be transported by water during winter rains or summer flash floods; mammals, birds and ants may aid in seed dispersal. The germination date is unknown.

THREATS: Water diversions from spring sources and groundwater pumping, road construction, off-road vehicles, livestock, and feral-horse grazing continue to threaten the Ash Meadows gumplant.

POPULATION TREND: Remaining populations of the Ash Meadows gumplant are beginning to stabilize.

Photo © Gary A. Monroe