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Media Advisory

Botanical Garden sprouts rare Mt. Diablo flower

06 June 2006

ATTENTION: Environmental writers and editors, assignment desks

Contact: Robert Sanders, Media Relations
(510) 643-6998, rsanders@berkeley.edu

Press conference to announce the successful propagation at the University of California Botanical Garden of the Mount Diablo buckwheat - a flower thought for 69 years to be extinct.

The dainty, pink-flowered plant was rediscovered a year ago by UC Berkeley graduate student Michael Park in a remote part of Mount Diablo State Park that had been recently added by the conservation organization Save Mount Diablo. The plants have also been reconfirmed at the Mount Diablo site, where they have increased in number.

10:30 a.m. Wednesday, June 7

The UC Botanical Garden's conference center terrace, UC Berkeley. The garden is at 200 Centennial Drive, up the road from Memorial Stadium in Strawberry Canyon.

Speakers will include:
Holly Forbes, curator and conservation officer, UC Botanical Garden, UC Berkeley
UC Berkeley graduate student Michael Park
Cyndy Shafer, environmental scientist for the Diablo Vista District of the California Department of Parks and Recreation
Seth Adams, director of land programs for Save Mount Diablo

Representatives of the Mt. Diablo Buckwheat Working Group will announce that the Mount Diablo buckwheat (Eriogonom truncatum), a pretty wildflower last seen in 1936 and presumed globally extinct until its rediscovery by Park on May 10, 2005, in Mount Diablo State Park, has been propagated at the UC Botanical Garden. The buckwheat - one of only three plants endemic to the mountain - resembles a small pink powder-puff version of the baby's breath used in floral arrangements. From a population of fewer than 20 plants in 2005, there are now more than 100.

The announcement last year of the plant's rediscovery unleashed an avalanche of public attention. Park and Forbes collected seeds last summer and gave them to the botanical garden, where staff propagator John Domzalski successfully germinated a dozen this winter.

The UC Botanical Garden will continue to collect seeds from the wild buckwheat plants and from the plants in cultivation as part of its conservation mission. Nearly one in four native California species, many rare and endangered, are represented in the garden's collection, and the staff often works with state and other agencies to conserve endangered species.