Torrey Pines Association supports The Chaparral Lands Conservancy's Rarest Plant Project to save and expand the rarest population of the Dudleya at the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve Extension in Del Mar Heights. Off-trail walking is the leading threat to this population. Conservation efforts include fencing, signing, and public outreach for the Dudleya as well as establishing several new populations of Orcutt's spineflower. That is the only other San Diego County native plant that is rarer than the Dudleya and that also grows at the TPSNR Extension.
Biologists for the Chaparral Society went out one morning in late June to collect the tiny dudleya seeds from the Reserve and germinate them. They maintain a seed library in case the seeds do not germinate in the Park. The seeds are threatened by trampling, especially by off- trail walking. In short, their efforts may save the tiny beautiful Dudleya flower from disappearing from our planet forever.
The biologists carefully left the marked trail, walking towards the Linda Vista cliff tops. They stepped on rocks only, placing their feet carefully, while methodically searching the ground. They found bb gun shells, a bracelet, two empty cigarette packs, and a ton of cigarette butts next to a ‘do not litter’ sign. What they didn’t find were any Dudley seeds where they used to be. They were gone.
However, the biologists did not give up and went back out again. They found fifteen plants at TPSNR Extension and were able to collect seeds. These will be propagated in addition to dudleya plants growing from a 2011 seed collection. The biologists plan to quadruple the population with all the seed collected and plants growing so far. That’s good news for the Dudley plant, and the TPA! For more information, please check out this article in the Del Mar Times.
If you want to help, please support TPA. We are funding the Dudleya seed project with $13,000. Please strongly encourage everybody to stay on the trails -- at the Reserve and at the Extension.