Erigeron basalticus - Hoover
Basalt Daisy
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Erigeron basalticus Hoover (TSN 35826)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.156390
Element Code: PDAST3M0H0
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Aster Family
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Dicotyledoneae Asterales Asteraceae Erigeron
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Concept Reference
Concept Reference: Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.
Concept Reference Code: B94KAR01HQUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Erigeron basalticus
Conservation Status

NatureServe Status

Global Status: G2
Global Status Last Reviewed: 26Sep2007
Global Status Last Changed: 10Feb2004
Rounded Global Status: G2 - Imperiled
Reasons: A very narrow Washington state endemic with six known occurrences, all within a 17 x 4.5 km area. The total number of individuals is estimated at 13,805. No imminent threats are known, but past road and railroad construction negatively impacted portions of the species' habitat and some basalt quarry activity has occurred in the general area.
Nation: United States
National Status: N2

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Washington (S2)

Other Statuses

Comments on USESA: Erigeron basalticus was originally identified as endangered in the Smithsonian Institution Report (1975) and by Ayensu and DeFilipps (1978). It remained a candidate for federal listing (USFWS 1980, USFWS 1996) until December 6, 2007. On that date, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) removed the species from the Candidate list, citing the following reasons: "(1) To date, threats from highway maintenance, rock quarrying, collection, location on private lands, herbicide spray drift, recreational rock climbing, or landslides previously described for this species have not been observed to affect numbers, distribution, or recruitment since the time it was initially surveyed. Activities previously thought to pose potential threats to the species have not materialized and we have no basis for concluding that they would affect the species in the future. Further, there is no portion of its range for which we have information that the species might be locally threatened. BLM has no plans to change management on the Areas of Critical Environmental Concern where several subpopulations occur. (2) Overall population numbers have fluctuated within a range, but appear to be relatively stable since 1988. Monitoring of the majority of the known sites in June 2007 counted robust numbers in nearly all populations and discovered two previously unknown locations. Continued surveys indicate subpopulations have been fluctuating in size within a reasonable range over time, and we have no reason to believe that this will change in the future" (USFWS 2007).

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: Erigeron basalticus is known from an area approximately 17 x 4.5 km in and adjacent to the Yakima River Canyon in Yakima and Kittitas Counties, Washington. The species' range is entirely within the Columbia Basin Province of Franklin and Dyrness (1973) and within the Columbia Plateau Ecoregion (TNC 1997).

Area of Occupancy: 26-500 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments: The areas of all the mapped polygons of Erigeron basalticus add up to approximately 69 ha. The lengths of each of the mapped polygons add up to approximately 4.8 km. Using a 2 x 2 km grid, area of occupancy is 24-56 sq. km.

Number of Occurrences: 6 - 20
Number of Occurrences Comments: There are seven current EOs, two of which are within 0.6 km of each other so should be combined, resulting in 6 EOs. Two occurrences reported since the last status review are slightly beyond the previous range extent (WAHP 2007).

Population Size Comments: A detailed population monitoring of most of the known occurrences of this species by Rare Care in June, 2007 resulted in a total census of 13,805 individuals. Occurrences (subpopulations) range in size from less than 100 to greater than 5000 individuals.

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Very few (1-3)
Viability/Integrity Comments: Two large publically owned occurrences (groupings of clusters of plants) appear stable and viable, with several thousand plants each. A third publically owned occurrence is smaller.

Overall Threat Impact: Medium
Overall Threat Impact Comments: Threats to the species include highway and railroad construction and maintenance, mining of the basalt (primarily for gravel), weed invasions, spray drift of herbicides and pesticides from nearby agricultural fields, development of adjacent lands for home sites, and expansion of the dam. Small areas may be subject to impacts associated with recreational boating and rock climbing (McCracken 2005). Although the threats are fairly limited, any increase in activity and use of the area may lead to the gradual degradation of habitat.

Two major federal highways and one railroad have been constructed through habitat for Erigeron basalticus. Quarrying of the basalt has occurred in two places within one of the occurrences. A dam has also been constructed (date unknown) in the vicinity of one population. It is not known to what degree these activities have affected the populations.

Maintenance of the railroad and highway right-of-ways also pose localized threats. Expansion of one of the highways and/or straightening of the roadway in places could also threaten portions of some occurrences.

There is no evidence to suggest that over-utilization for commercial, sporting, scientific or educational use has been or is likely to become a significant threat to Erigeron basalticus. Likewise, there is no evidence to suggest that disease, predation or grazing have had, or will likely have, any negative impacts on this species.

Because it is only fround in a small area, the species is vulnerable to localized natural events such as landslides caused by heavy rainfall.

The limited range and small number and size of populations make the species vulnerable to environmental and demographic stochasticity.

Short-term Trend: Relatively Stable (<=10% change)
Short-term Trend Comments: Despite localized disturbances, known populations appear to be stable, as indicated by their age (size) class distribution. The monitoring by Rare Care in 2007 shows moderate changes in population sizes, both increasing and decreasing. Overall the species appears to be stable.

Long-term Trend: Decline of <30% to increase of 25%
Long-term Trend Comments: Apparently relatively stable within the one area of occurrence. Although there appears to be more suitable habitat present than is currently occupied, there is no evidence to suggest that the species was ever more widespread.

Intrinsic Vulnerability Comments: Presumably mature individuals have a secure, durable root system.

Environmental Specificity: Narrow. Specialist or community with key requirements common.
Environmental Specificity Comments: Occurs in very open vegetation on basalt.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Global Range: Erigeron basalticus is known from an area approximately 17 x 4.5 km in and adjacent to the Yakima River Canyon in Yakima and Kittitas Counties, Washington. The species' range is entirely within the Columbia Basin Province of Franklin and Dyrness (1973) and within the Columbia Plateau Ecoregion (TNC 1997).

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States WA

Range Map
No map available.

U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
WA Kittitas (53037), Yakima (53077)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
17 Upper Yakima (17030001)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
Basic Description: A perennial herb, up to 1 dm tall, with tri-lobed leaves and flower heads with white to lavender rays surrounding a yellowish disc. Blooms May-October.
General Description: Taprooted perennial herb with one to several sprawling or pendent stems per plant. The stems are 4-6 inches long, leafy especially toward the tip. Most of the leaves are about 1 inch in length, wedge-shaped in outline, and three-lobed at the tip. The herbage is glandular and covered with stiff, spreading hairs. Branches are terminated by a single flower. The flowers are typically daisy-like, with white to lilac ray flowers, about 1/4 inch long, surrounding a cluster of small disk flowers (Gamon 1988, after Alverson and Sheehan 1986).
Technical Description: Stems several from a perennial taproot, sprawling or pendent, branched, leafy especially near the tip; herbage spreading-hirsute and finely glandular; leaves cuneate to obovate, up to about 4 cm. long and 1.5 cm. wide, more or less deeply and often irregularly trilobed, the lobes broad, often slightly lobed again; heads terminating the branches, the disk about 8-12 mm. wide; involucre 5-6 mm. high, densely glandular and sometimes sparsely long-hairy; rays usually 25-30, pink or pink-purple, 5-7 mm. long and 1.5 mm. wide; disk corollas 3-4 mm. long; pappus usually of 10-15 bristles, with some inconspicuous outer setae (from Hitchcock et al. 1955).
Diagnostic Characteristics: Erigeron basalticus is the only member of the species within its range (low elevation central Washington) with lobed leaves. E. compositus does occur in Washington, but can be distinguished by its leaves, which are all basal.
Reproduction Comments: Little is known about the reproductive biology of Erigeron basalticus. It presumably begins its yearly growth as the daily minimum temperatures increase to above the freezing level, sometime in late March or early April. Flowering has been reported as early as the first week of May, when daily temperatures and the number of daylight hours are increasing. Peak anthesis occurs typically from late May to the middle of June. Although a majority of individuals have flowered by the end of July, when rainfall reaches its lowest monthly average, occasional individuals can be found flowering throughout the summer.

Although the mode of pollination has not been documented, it is presumed to be accomplished primarily by insect vectors.

The achenes of Erigeron basalticus are adapted for wind dispersal. This mechanism is perhaps enhanced by the plants' location on cliffs and within canyons through which there is often a breeze blowing. Rainwater may also wash seeds down slope.

The only known germination tests have been conducted by the Berry Botanic Garden in Portland, Oregon (Kierstead, pers. comm. 1987). Seeds were divided into two groups. The first group of ten seeds were stratified for 40 days and then planted. Only one of these plants germinated. A second group of 10 seeds were planted without stratification. No individuals from this group germinated.

No information is available on the seed and seedling ecology of Erigeron basalticus. Although there would appear to be a fair amount of suitable unoccupied habitat within and adjacent to the known range of this species, it may be that the amount of habitat with sufficient light, moisture and substrate requirements for seed germination and seedling growth and survival is limiting. It is also possible that Erigeron basalticus does not successfully disperse its seeds to these sites.

The number of known sites and the size of populations occupying those sites are both quite small. However, as evidenced by the size-class distribution of individuals, the populations appear to be stable.

Ecology Comments: The habitat for Erigeron basalticus is exposed basalt cliffs and outcrops. Such sites undergo gradual weathering and continual fracturing of the basalt. This fracturing creates the microsites within which the species roots. There is no evidence to suggest that the taxon is dependent on other natural disturbances, at least within the time frame which we tend to think about for such disturbances.

Erigeron basalticus occurs in microsites that are relatively devoid of other vascular vegetation. There are occasional grasses, herbs and small shrubs present, but the total cover of vascular vegetation is 1% or less.

The range of Erigeron basalticus occurs within Bailey's (1980) Sagebrush-Wheatgrass (3131) section of the Intermountain Sagebrush Province and within the area mapped by Daubenmire (1970) as the Artemisia tridentata / Agropyron spicatum Association. However, the habitat within which E. basalticus grows is specialized and is not properly considered part of this association.

Although Erigeron basalticus typically occurs by itself, other species are commonly found nearby on the basalt cliffs and outcrops. These species include: Haplopappus resinosus, Heuchera cylindrica, Penstemon richardsonii, Mimulus sp., Achillea millefolium, Thelypodium laciniatum, Poa secunda and Bromus tectorum.

No quantitative data exist on the dominance or frequency of Erigeron basalticus. However, where E. basalticus occurs, it is generally conspicuous, though it never provides more than 1% cover.

Erigeron basalticus is restricted to sites (basalt cliffs) which are undergoing primary succession. The only suitable habitat for this and other species is the cracks in the basalt. The vegetation present in these cracks may contribute to the fracturing of the basalt. The deposition of plant litter in these cracks and its subsequent decomposition undoubtedly contribute to the soil development. It is not known what role interspecific competition for space plays in the overall biology of Erigeron basalticus.

Terrestrial Habitat(s): Bare rock/talus/scree, Cliff
Habitat Comments: Dry vertical basalt cliffs of Yakima River and tributatries at 300-500 m elevation (Flora of North America Editorial Committee 2006). The habitat for Erigeron basalticus is exclusively crevices and cracks in basalt cliffs on canyon walls along the Yakima River and Selah Creek, both of which have cut through basalt from the Yakima Basalt Formation, which occurred during the late Miocene (McKee 1972). The species occurs in microsites with a northern, western or eastern aspect. It occurs at sites that range in elevation from approximately 1250 to 1500 feet (380 to 460 meters). Total vascular vegetation cover is generally less than 1%. The sites are undergoing primary succession. The crevices within which Erigeron basalticus is rooted have virtually no soil development. The soil that is present presumably has been deposited by wind and/or transported to these cracks by water (Gamon 1988).
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
Management Summary
Stewardship Overview: Erigeron basalticus is a rare endemic vascular plant species. It is restricted to a small geographic range and is very limited in number of populations and number of individuals. It is restricted to cracks and crevices in exposed basalt. Maintenance of the physical integrity of the habitat is the primary concern for this species. This is due partly to a lack of knowledge about the conditions necessary for germination and seedling establishment and growth, but also to the inherent difficulties in managing for a species occurring exclusively in crevices and cracks in bedrock material.
Restoration Potential: The restoration potential for Erigeron basalticus is probably somewhat limited. Its restriction to cracks and crevices in exposed basalt complicates any cultivation or population enhancement efforts. Until more is known about conditions conducive to seedling establishment, and whether or not those conditions can be managed for, restoration and recovery efforts should focus on reducing the further degradation and loss of habitat.
Preserve Selection & Design Considerations: There are other significant natural features within the same ecosystem as Erigeron basalticus. These features should be considered in any preserve design development for E. basalticus. The Washington Natural Heritage Program (Department of Natural Resources) and the Wildlife Diversity Division of the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife should periodically be contacted for information on significant features within the range of E. basalticus.

Each population targeted for protection needs to be large enough from the start to be considered viable; enhancing existing populations is expected to be difficult, given the lack of knowledge regarding requirements for successful seedling establishment.

The position of the target occurrence relative to current and potential management activities on adjacent lands should be considered.

Although not currently a serious threat, additional non-native species are likely to continue to invade the general area. Some may have the ability to colonize the habitat of Erigeron basalticus. The ability to address such invasions in a timely and effective fashion should be developed ahead of time.

Management Requirements: Maintenance of the physical integrity of the basalt cliffs on which Erigeron basalticus grows is of primary importance. Removal of the basalt from these sites should be prohibited. Highway and railroad maintenance and construction projects should avoid known sites if at all possible. Mining, construction or maintenance projects adjacent to known sites should include dust control measures.

Those responsible for control of noxious weeds should be made aware of the presence of E. basalticus so that they do not inadvertently spray it with herbicides.

Monitoring Requirements: The habitat for this species (i.e., vertical cliffs composed of relatively loose basalt) and its distribution pattern (unevenly patchy) make population trend monitoring problematic. Very limited portions of individual occurrences are accessible. Although such areas could be sampled, they may not be representative of the overall occurrence with regard to population trends. Consideration may have to be given to using semi-remote techniques, such as using a spotting scope or binoculars. The use of photo points could adequately document site-level changes within individual sites.

Individual activities on adjacent lands might also warrant specific monitoring activities. For example, quarry activity or spraying of herbicides and/or pesticides on adjacent agricultural fields should be accompanied by monitoring of the dust and chemicals that land within known occurrences.

Management Programs: No known management programs exist for E. basalticus. The Washington State Department of Natural Resources has a management plan for the state-owned land which harbors this species, but the plan focuses on maintaining current habitat conditions and on reducing risks associated with incompatible uses of the area, rather than on direct management of the habitat.
Monitoring Programs: At present there is monitoring of only one occurrence of Erigeron basalticus. The Washington State Department of Natural Resources Natural Areas Program monitors the occurrence within the state-owned site in accordance with an approved management plan for the area. The management plan requires that an annual census of Erigeron basalticus be conducted using binoculars and photo points at peak flowering time. The plan also requires monthly (during the field season) inspections for signs of insects or disease and for non-native species invasions. The key contact for the monitoring at this site is David Wilderman, Natural Areas Scientist, Southeast Region, Washington State Department of Natural Resources, Ellensburg, Washington.
Management Research Programs: There are no known management research programs underway for this species.
Management Research Needs: Management-related research priorities for Erigeron basalticus include (1) how management of adjacent lands may impact the species, (2) the identification of what, if anything, can be done to favor seed germination and seedling establishment and growth, and, (3) development of an appropriate methodology to assess population trends.
Additional topics: Two research projects have been mentioned in the literature. Everett et al. (1991) began a study using Erigeron basalticus as one of two rare cliff-dwelling plants to assess climatic change. Results of their work to-date have apparently not been published. Robson et al. (1994) compared variation in reproductive structures between rare and common species of Erigeron occurring within the arid region of eastern Washington.

Knowledgeable individuals include Pam Camp (U.S.D.I. Bureau of Land Management, Wenatchee, Washington), Dr. William Barker (Central Washington University), Dr. Richard Everett (U.S.F.S. Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station, Wenatchee, Washington), Dr. Kali Robson (Washington State University, Vancouver, WA extension campus) and Debra Salstrom (consultant, Tenino, Washington).
Population/Occurrence Delineation
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Erigeron basalticus is a perennial with several stems emerging from a taproot. Individual plants are typically easy to distinguish. Plants occur in a patchy distribution pattern, but the density of individuals is never very great. The species occurs only on vertical or near-vertical, exposed basalt. This habitat occurs in patch sizes of less than 1 acre to hundreds of acres. The minimum requirement for an EO is to have at least one naturally occurring mature individual.
Separation Barriers: Suitable habitat patches can be separated by slopes with soil deposition, the Yakima River, side drainages, etc.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: .8 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 1.61 km
Separation Justification: Habitat is deemed unsuitable if it does not contain fairly contiguous vertical or near-vertical exposed basalt. Some confusion could arise by including groups of plants on opposite sides of the Yakima River Canyon within the same EO. As more detailed information about the distribution of plants within individual occurrences and about the reproductive and dispersal biology of the species is gained, these EO specifications may change.
Date: 25Jun1998
Author: Gamon, J.G.
Population/Occurrence Viability
Date: 25Jun1998
Author: Gamon, J.G.
Notes: WAHP
U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 25Jun1998
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Gamon, J.G., WANHP botanist, rev. Gamon/Maybury (1996), L. Morse (1997); update J.G. Gamon (1998); rev. L. Morse 2005; rev. J. Arnett, WANHP Botanist (2007)

Management Information Edition Date: 25Jun1998
Management Information Acknowledgments: Much of the information contained in this Element Stewardship Abstract was originally developed under a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under Section 6 of the Endangered Species Act. Funding for the preparation of this document was provided by the Conservation Science Department of The Nature Conservancy.

Botanical data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs), The North Carolina Botanical Garden, and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

  • Alverson, E., and M. Sheehan. 1986. Status report on Erigeron basalticus. Washington Natural Heritage Program files. 7 pp. and attachments.

  • Ayensu, E.S. and R.H. DeFilipps, eds. 1978. Endangered and threatened plants of the United States. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC.

  • Bailey, R.G. 1980. Description of the ecoregions of the United States. USDA Forest Service Misc. Publ. 1391, in cooperation with USFWS. 77 p.

  • Cronquist, A. 1955. Compositae. In C.L. Hitchcock, A. Cronquist, M. Ownbey, and J.W. Thompson (eds.). Vascular plants of the Pacific Northwest. Part 5. Univ. Washington Press, Seattle. 343 pp.

  • Daubenmire, R. 1970. Steppe vegetation of Washington. Washington Agricultural Experiment Station Technical Bull. 62.

  • Everett, R., K. Robson, W. Barker, and T. Lillybridge. 1991. Rare cliff-dwelling plant species as biological monitors of climate change. Northwest Environmental Journal 7(2):352.

  • Ferris, R.S. 1960. Illustrated flora of the Pacific states: Washington, Oregon, and California. Vol. IV. Bignoniaceae to Compositae. Stanford Univ. Press, Stanford, CA. 732 pp.

  • Flora of North America Editorial Committee. 2006b. Flora of North America North of Mexico. Vol. 20. Magnoliophyta: Asteridae, part 7: Asteraceae, part 2. Oxford Univ. Press, New York. xxii + 666 pp.

  • Franklin, J.F., and C.T. Dyrness. 1973. Natural vegetation of Oregon and Washington. U.S. Forest Service, General Technical Report PNW-8. Portland, OR.

  • Gamon, J. 1988. Report on the status of Erigeron basalticus Hoover. Unpublished report submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Olympia, Washington. 32 pp.

  • Hallock, L. and T. Thomas. 2002. Candidate and listing priority assignment form: Erigeron basalticus. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Upper Columbia Fish and Wildlife Office, Spokane, Washington.

  • Hitchcock, C.L., and A. Cronquist. 1973. Flora of the Pacific Northwest: An Illustrated Manual. University of Washington Press, Seattle, Washington. 730 pp.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.

  • McCracken, T. 2005. November-last update. Species assessment and listing priority assignment form: Erigeron basalticus. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Endangered Species Program. Online. Available: (accessed 27 August 2007).

  • McKee, B. 1972. Cascadia. Stuart Press, Seattle, Washington. 394 pp.

  • Rare Care. 2007. Results of Erigeron basalticus surveys by Washington Rare Plant Care and Conservation. Report on intensive monitoring of Erigeron basalticus occurrences in June, 2007.

  • Robson, K.A., C.C. Hanson, and W.W. Barker. 1994. Variation in reproductive structures for rare and common species of Erigeron L. Abstracts from the Annual Meeting of the Northwest Scientific Association. Abstract #73.

  • Smithsonian Institution. 1975. Report on threatened and endangered plant species of the United State. House Document no. 94-51. Committee on merchant marine and fisheries, Washington. Soil Conservation Service. 1982. National list of scientific plant names. U.S.D.A. SCS-TP-159 Volume 1.

  • The Nature Conservancy. 1997. Designing a geography of hope: guidelines for ecoregion-based conservation in The Nature Conservancy. The Nature Conservancy, Arlington, Virginia. 84 pp.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 1980. Endangered and threatened wildlife and plants: Review of plant taxa for listing as endangered and threatened species: Notice of review. Federal Register 45 CFR Part 242: 82480-82569.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 1996. Endangered and threatened wildlife and plants; review of plant and animal taxa that are candidates for listing as endangered or threatened species. Federal Register 61(40):7596-7613.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 2004. Species assessment and listing priority assignment form. Erigeron basalticus. 11 pp.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 2007. Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Review of Native Species That Are Candidates for Listing as Endangered or Threatened; Annual Notice of Findings on Resubmitted Petitions; Annual Description of Progress on Listing Actions; Proposed Rule. Federal Register 72(234): 69034-69106.

  • Washington Natural Heritage Program and U.S.D.I. Bureau of Land Management. 1999. Field guide to selected rare vascular plants of Washington. Online. Available: (accessed 2007).

  • Washington Natural Heritage Program. 1981. An illustrated guide to the endangered, threatened and sensitive vascular plants of Washington. Washington Natural Heritage Program, Olympia. 328 pp.

  • Washington Natural Heritage Program. 1994. Endangered, threatened and sensitive vascular plants of Washington. Dept. of Natural Resources, Olympia, Washington. 52 pp.

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