Alligator Lizard

Back from the Brink of Extinction

From Park E-ventures, November 2012

Franciscan Manzanita

As you may know the assumed to be extinct Franciscan manzanita (or “Francie,” as staff in the park have come to call the original plant), was rediscovered during the Doyle Drive work. CalTrans relocated all 20,000 pounds of the plant in January 2010. Most exciting, the Franciscan manzanita is fitting right in to her new location in the Presidio, even helping some of the new neighbors who were once part of her ecosystem. Here, an alligator lizard hides under Francie (above). And Francie with the Clarkia in bloom (left). Both seem happy to once again have a manzanita to support them.

The Franciscan manzanita recently received official Endangered Species status, giving it further protection.

Nursery Propagation

Meanwhile, the nursery staff is experimenting further on techniques to induce germination of seed collected from Francie by using seeds of a close relative, the Mount Tamalpais manzanita. Some of the methods we used were successful─early data appears to show that soaking seed in liquid smoke and two months of a cold moist treatment gave good germination. We will try the methods with the best results again to see if we have consistent success on the Mt. Tam manzanita. If we do, once a Recovery Plan is written by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, we will ask for permission to propagate the Franciscan seeds using those methods. Seedlings (sons and daughters from Francie) will provide more genetic variation in what we hope will be a vibrant plant community restored once again to its natural function.

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Topics: Plants/fungi




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Hi Teresa, I was wondering if anyone woudl catch that and ask. I wrote the article and am head of the park nurseries. There is quite a bit of research showing that fire dependent species (ones whose seeds lay dormant on the ground until a fire sweeps through), such as the manzanita, germinate in response to the chemical in the smoke from a fire, not the heat of the fire. We tried that same stuff you put on your steak, and we made our own by putting a pan of water in a closed "weber"-type grill, and burning native woody plants in the grill, so the smoke was absorbed into the water. Both worked pretty well. Adding heat did not improve germination. Thanks for your comment. Betty director of Nurseries 
Submitted by Betty Young on November 5, 2012 
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Curious how someone determined that liquid smoke would aid in germination... 
Submitted by Teresa Gordillo on November 3, 2012 


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