Text Size:   A+ A- A   •   Text Only
Find     
Site Image
Other plants of conservation interest
Overview
The plants included in this section are Oregon natives that do not currently qualify for listing under the state’s Endangered Species Act. However, many of them are prized and sought for their beauty. Most of these plants occur in rare and fragile habitats. Thus, we must be careful that our actions do not unduly harm these species and ensure that these plants continue to enrich our native flora for generations to come.

Cypripedium montanum (mountain lady slipper)
 
Cypripedium montanum flowers
  Flowers of mountain lady slipper. Photo by ODA staff.
Mountain lady slipper is a distinctive orchid (Orchidaceae) that grows from 2-6 dm tall, with broad, elliptic leaves along the entire stem. It bears 1-3 elegant blooms, each with a modified petal that forms a slipper-shaped pouch. This pouch, or "lip," is white to purple-tinged, often with purplish venation. The long, slender sepals and petals are purplish brown and twisted or wavy. Petals, which are slightly longer than the sepals, are up to 6.5 cm long.
 
 
This species occurs in dry to moist woods, usually in partially shaded areas at lower to middle elevations. It is found primarily in old-growth forest, but inhabits relatively mature second-growth forest, as well. All orchids require mycorrhizal fungi to survive; these fungi form a symbiotic relationship with orchid roots that allows for beneficial nutrient exchange between the organisms, sometimes with very specialized, species-specific fungus-orchid pairing requirements. Evidence indicates that mountain lady slipper is one orchid species that may be limited by the distribution of its specific fungal partners.
 
 
Mountain lady slipper ranges throughout northwestern North America. It is widespread in Oregon, where it is known from at least 20 counties. The species is threatened by logging, horticultural collecting, and grazing. Although not listed as threatened or endangered, mountain lady slipper receives protection under Oregon Revised Statute 564.020, which prohibits the export, sale, and transport of several plant genera, including Cypripedium. Mountain lady slipper, along with many other native orchids sought after for their unusual beauty, deserves careful conservation attention to ensure that its status remains secure.
 
References
Hitchcock, C.L., A. Cronquist and M. Ownbey. 1969. Vascular plants of the Pacific Northwest. Part 1: Vascular cryptogams, gymnosperms, and monocotyledons. University of Washington Press, Seattle, Washington.
 
 
Meinke, R.J. 1980. Threatened and endangered vascular plants of Oregon: an illustrated guide. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Portland, Oregon.
 
 
ORNHIC (Oregon Natural Heritage Information Center). 2007. Rare, threatened and endangered species of Oregon. Oregon Natural Heritage Information Center, Oregon State University, Portland, Oregon.
 
 
Shefferson, R.P., M. Weiss, T. Kull and D.L. Taylor. 2005. High specificity generally characterizes mycorrhizal association in rare lady’s slipper orchids, genus Cypripedium. Molecular Ecology 14:613-626.
 
 

Darlingtonia californica (California pitcher plant, cobra lily)
 
Darlingtonia californica plant
 
California pitcher plant leaves. Photo by Melissa Carr.
This remarkable carnivorous plant is the only member of the pitcher plant family (Sarraceniaceae) found in Oregon. It inhabits boggy seeps ranging from Tillamook County in Oregon south to northern California, occurring along the coast, in coastal mountains, and in the Sierra Nevada.
 
 
The distinctive greenish yellow leaves of the California pitcher plant function as insect traps. Each leaf (or "pitcher") is 1-5 dm long and forms a tube that widens at the top to an inflated hood speckled with translucent patches. A divided yellow or purplish green "fish-tail" appendage fronts a small, downward-facing leaf opening under the hood. The leaf interior is waxy and lined with stiff, downward-pointing hairs. Insects enter a leaf, attracted by nectar secretions near the opening, and are often unable to climb or fly back out, confused by the translucent false openings and thwarted by the slippery sides of the pitcher. Eventually, insects fall into the liquid at the base of the leaf and are digested by insect larvae and other fauna living within the fluid. A Darlingtonia plant absorbs nutrients made available by the digestive processes of the fauna that inhabit it.
 
 
The California pitcher plant is threatened by horticultural collection, habitat destruction due to off-road vehicle use, mining, logging, housing development, road construction, and wetland drainage. However, this species does not currently qualify for listing under the Oregon Endangered Species Act because it is relatively widespread in both Oregon and California. Although not listed as threatened or endangered, Darlingtonia receives protection under Oregon Administrative Rule 603-073-0005, which prohibits the export, sale, and transport of the genus. The species is also protected on some federal lands under a multi-agency conservation agreement (pdf, 926 KB) specifically focused on protecting serpentine California pitcher plant wetlands and fens in southwestern Oregon and northwestern California.
 
References
Juniper, B.E., R.J. Robins and D.M. Joel. 1989. The carnivorous plants. Academic Press, San Diego, California.
 
 
Meinke, R.J. 1980. Threatened and endangered vascular plants of Oregon: an illustrated guide. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Portland, Oregon.
 
 

Sidalcea hendersonii (Henderson's checkermallow)
 
 Sidalcea hendersonii plant
 Henderson's checkermallow plant.  Photo by Gail Baker.
This showy, bright-pink-flowered perennial of the mallow family (Malvaceae) grows up to 1.5 meters tall. Henderson’s checkermallow is distinguished from other members of the genus Sidalcea by its estuarine habitat, glabrous foliage, and smooth carpels. Two forms of flowers are present in the species: large bisexual flowers bearing both stamens and pistils, and smaller female flowers that do not produce pollen. Henderson’s checkermallow ranges farther north than any other checkermallow species, occurring in tidally influenced regions along the Pacific coast from southeastern Alaska south to Oregon.
 
 
The species was named in honor of influential pioneer botanist Louis F. Henderson, who made extensive plant collections throughout Oregon, greatly advancing our understanding of the native flora. Henderson collected the type specimen of the checkermallow that bears his name in 1887 in the Columbia River estuary.
 
 
Henderson’s checkermallow is known from ten historical populations in Oregon. However, extensive searches for the species spearheaded by the Native Plant Society of Oregon in 2003 and 2004 indicate that all but one of these populations have been extirpated. Today, only the historical Siuslaw River estuary population in Lane County survives. The largest occurrence of Henderson’s checkermallow within this population is located on Cox Island, a preserve managed by The Nature Conservancy. The species is potentially threatened by habitat alteration due to successional changes, non-native invasive species, agriculture, grazing, development, and recreational use, and by seed predation by weevils.
 
 
Though critically rare in Oregon, Henderson’s checkermallow does not qualify for protection under the Oregon Endangered Species Act due to the large populations of this species that occur in Washington and British Columbia. Fortunately, successes in cultivating this species from seed offer hope for increasing the viability of this beautiful member of our native flora within Oregon. Using cultivated plants, the Institute for Applied Ecology (a Corvallis-based education and conservation organization) recently established two new populations of Henderson’s checkermallow in Lincoln and Douglas counties. These efforts increased the size and number of the Oregon populations of this unique species and improve the likelihood of its continued existence in our state.
 
 
References
 
Gisler, M.M. and R.M. Love. 2005. Henderson’s checkermallow: the natural, botanical, and conservation history of a rare estuarine species. Kalmiopsis 12:1-8.
 
 
Hitchcock, C.L. and A. Cronquist. 1973. Flora of the Pacific Northwest. University of Washington Press. Seattle, Washington.
 
Love, R.M. 2002. Louis F. Henderson (1853-1942): the grand old man of Northwest botany. Native Plant Society of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon.
 
 
United States Fish and Wildlife Service. 2006. Endangered and threatened wildlife and plants; 90-day finding on a petition to list Sidalcea hendersonii (Henderson’s checkermallow) as threatened or endangered. Federal Register 71(32):8252-8257.