The SOS Work Begins !

We have officially made our first Seeds of Success collection! The past three weeks since coming back from training at the Chicago Botanic Garden have been full speed ahead for SOS scouting and collections. We have completed two collections for Seeds of Success, meaning we collected >10,000 seeds each for two separate species – Castilleja sessiliflora and Nerisyrenia linearifolia.

Each collection came with its own challenges. Our first collection, Castilleja sessiliflora proved to be difficult because of the cryptic nature of the individuals. When their seed is ripe, the plant has dried and turned a brown shade conveniently similar to the shade of the soil. There were also relatively few plants in the population we collected from, so we had to be very thorough when scanning the ground for the individuals. We collected 20% of the seeds from every individual, bringing our estimated total seed count to around 15,000. Our collection of Nerisyrenia linearifolia proved to be a much easier task, with an abundance of easily identifiable and conspicuous individuals. We were able to collect more seed from this population because there were more plants with more fruits per plant, so we estimated a total collection of about 30,000 seeds.

It was incredibly satisfying to find species and populations with seed that was ready to be collected. However, two collections in three weeks leaves a lot of time unaccounted for. Most of our time has been spent scouting for populations of species on our target list. We have driven many miles scouring the Carlsbad Resource Area for species we want to collect. We have had some very successful days, finding two or three locations with multiple species abundant enough for future collections. We have also had days where we’ve found virtually nothing. These days definitely feel somewhat useless, but it is encouraging to know that we’ve crossed off an area on our list and won’t have to revisit those sites that weren’t fruitful.

The species pictured above are all on our target list for collection.

Carlsbad has been a great place to work in so far, but it is a town of over 30,000 people, with an immense amount of oil and gas development in the surrounding areas. So, my weekends have been spent getting out of town and exploring. Highlights so far have been Guadalupe Mountains National Park which includes the highest point in Texas (8751 ft), the cute mountain town of Cloudcroft (at 8600 ft!) in the Sacramento Mountains, and the Organ Mountains near Las Cruces (my favorite so far). I look forward to more weekends exploring New Mexico and West Texas; I’m learning so many new plants and enjoying the desert heat (mostly).

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