Helianthus paradoxus - Heiser
Pecos Sunflower
Other English Common Names: Paradox Sunflower, Puzzle Sunflower
Other Common Names: paradox sunflower
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Helianthus paradoxus Heiser (TSN 36670)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.139880
Element Code: PDAST4N130
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Aster Family
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Dicotyledoneae Asterales Asteraceae Helianthus
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Concept Reference
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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: Helianthus paradoxus
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G2
Global Status Last Reviewed: 17Mar2003
Global Status Last Changed: 12Feb1996
Rounded Global Status: G2 - Imperiled
Reasons: This species is found at widely separated locations in central and southern New Mexico and into Texas. It may once have been more common but suitable habitat within the range is declining. Texas has only one extant population. A couple of the New Mexico populations are large, but others are very small and non-viable. Species is very vulnerable to changes in natural hydrologic regimes.
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 New Mexico (S2), Texas (S1)

Other Statuses

U.S. Endangered Species Act (USESA): LT: Listed threatened (20Oct1999)
Comments on USESA: Helianthus paradoxus was proposed threatened on April 1, 1998 and listed as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act on October 20, 1999.
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Lead Region: R2 - Southwest

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: At present puzzle sunflower occurs in two general areas in Pecos and Reeves Counties in west Texas and four general areas in New Mexico. Historically there were six other locations within Pecos and Reeves Counties; however all except one of these sites have not been relocated due to imprecise locality data and the lack of access to private land. The relocated site was heavily invaded by salt cedar and had little water left. No puzzle sunflowers were found, although the entire site was not searched.

Number of Occurrences: 6 - 20
Number of Occurrences Comments: At present there are six general areas where the species occurs: four in New Mexico and two in Texas. There are between 1 and 11 sites at each of these six general locations for a total of 25 sites. In New Mexico, there are two sites near the town of Grants, one along the Rio San Jose on the Laguna Indian Reservation, eight in or near the town of Santa Rosa, and 11 in the Pecos River Valley from just north of Roswell to just north of Dexter. In Texas there are two sites along Diamond Y Creek north of Fort Stockton, and one at East Sandia Springs near Balmorhea.

Ten of the 11 Pecos River sites occur within a 22 mile (36 km) stretch of the Pecos River Valley. All eight observations in the Santa Rosa area occur within a four square-mile area. The two sites in Grants are near the San Jose River and separated from the Laguna population by approximately 44 miles (73 km).

The two Diamond Y sites are within three miles of each other. The Diamond Y and East Sandia Springs Preserves are within 50 miles (80 km) of each other. The Texas sites are approximately 150 miles (241 km) south of the most southerly New Mexico site.

The plant was first collected along what would now be the Rio San Jose on the Laguna Indian Reservation in 1853, and still exists in the vicinity today. Most of the historical sites in Texas, including one from the mid-1800s, have not been relocated due to poor locality data and/or lack of access to private land. Although the species was reported as "very likely extinct" in Texas (Correll and Johnson 1979), this was far from true. When the species was given federal category status, several surveys turned up new populations. Although this may appear as an increase in populations, it is more likely just an increase in human knowledge. Habitat for puzzle sunflower, at least in Texas, has significantly decreased due to cessation of spring flow (Poole 1992). However, the overall trend for the species is unclear as the historical distribution, with few exceptions, is unknown.

Population Size Comments: Found in abundance at Bitter Lake NWR and in waterways around town of Santa Rosa. At some occurrences it is locally abundant - maybe > 3000 individuals in total - but some New Mexico occurrences are small and nonviable. Populations include one federal (refuge), one private (Texas Nature Conservancy), one tribal, and one municipal; the remaining populations are privately owned (K. Kennedy, Aug 1995).

Overall Threat Impact: High - medium
Overall Threat Impact Comments: Ground water depletion, competition with exotic plants, hybridization with the common sunflower, grazing, wildfire, and development all threaten this species. Suitable habitat within the range is declining.

Ground water depletion: Springs and seeps are rare habitats in an arid environment, and are being consumed at varying rates by agriculture, urban development (Sivinski 1996) and invasions of saltcedar (Tamarix sp.), although not necessarily in that order of importance. In Pecos and Reeves Counties, 48 of the 61 springs have gone dry, primarily due to groundwater pumping (Brune 1981). Some of these sites represent former marshes as evidenced by the county soil surveys (Jaco 1980; Rives 1980). It is possible that they once supported populations of puzzle sunflower. However, correlating former marshes with historical plant locations is difficult due to the vagueness of the localities and the lack of access to private property.

Exotic plant competition: Tamarix sp. can almost totally exclude all native vegetation from the wetlands it invades. As well as forming dense thickets that shade smaller species, it modifies the habitat to become significantly drier and more saline. One of the historical localities of puzzle sunflower in Reeves County, Texas is now almost entirely dominated by salt cedar. The Russian olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia) is another exotic species that frequently invades wetland edges. It is common in the Santa Rosa cienegas and it was noted that few sunflower plants grew in stands of Russian olive, implying that presence of Russian olive may limit sunflower growth.

Livestock grazing: Wetland habitats provide both forage and water for livestock. Unless managed correctly, livestock can modify the habitat of the puzzle sunflower. Some consequences of habitat modification (i.e. drying out and invasion of exotic plant species) may be more detrimental than direct grazing impacts. Research indicates that grazing decreases the number of flower heads and seeds as well as the dry mass of the stems, flower heads, and leaves of puzzle sunflower (Van Auken and Bush 1993, 1995; Bush and Van Auken 1997).

Hybridization: Hybrids of common and puzzle sunflower have been observed in the Santa Rosa, New Mexico area and at Diamond Y Preserve in west Texas where the two species have been found growing a few meters apart. The hybrids are usually solitary individuals occupying drier marginal habitat. They have intermediate leaf and phyllary characteristics and often the pubescence of the common sunflower. Hybrids have not been found within the dense colonies of puzzle sunflower growing on wet cienegas. Therefore, habitat specificity appears to be a barrier to the introgression of common sunflower genes into large, healthy colonies of puzzle sunflower. However in narrow, linear habitats or sites which are drying up, the common sunflower has a broader base from which to hybridize with puzzle sunflower. Although puzzle sunflower is a stable species, it is a believed to have been derived from the common sunflower and the prairie sunflower, H. petiolaris. Hence it is not surprising that it can backcross fairly easily with the common sunflower, and would be expected to equally easily cross with the prairie sunflower. However, as of the present time, no prairie x puzzle hybrids have been observed.

Wildfire: Wet meadow habitat generally produces fine vegetation that is susceptible to fire. A fire in the late fall could eliminate a small population of sunflowers, and seeds in the soil seed bank would be the only source for the next generation. Data on the longevity of the seeds in the soil are few. However there are several instances where populations, or portions of populations have been subjected to fire. In 1996 six plants of puzzle sunflower were observed to come up in the area after the removal of salt cedar. In April, 1997, a prescribed burn was made on the same area. A few months later 75 plants were counted. In addition there are four other observations that relate to fire tolerance. A large fire was deliberately set in a portion of the Bitter Lake population in November 1992. Also a large patch of sunflowers was burned sometime between October 1992 and March 1993 in Santa Rosa. In addition, a third patch of sunflowers was burned at Lloyds Canyon near Roswell in the winter of 1993. A wildfire at Diamond Y Preserve on December 13, 1993 burned through the puzzle sunflower area. All the burned areas had dense stands of the puzzle sunflower during the subsequent growing season. Research by Van Auken and Bush (1994) indicated that fire could have a positive effect on puzzle sunflower. After burning plots in February and reseeding with puzzle sunflower, they observed that puzzle sunflower in the burned plots had more dry mass than the control plots.

Development and maintenance: The Santa Rosa population is within the developed area of the rural town. Much of the wet meadow habitat is an artesian feature that makes it difficult to drain for street and building development. However, some habitat is sufficiently dry for golf course development that would destroy some patches of sunflower. Three small municipal fishing and scuba diving parks already exist within the sunflower habitat. Generally the park development and maintenance has not extirpated the plants but does influence their population density. For example, these parks are mowed, which reduces sunflower populations, the picnic-swimming facility is maintained for no riparian vegetation (including sunflowers) and the maintenance man at one of the parks admits to unsuccessfully trying to eradicate the sunflower from the margins of the main fishing pond. Although the Reeves County, Texas population is close to the small town of Balmorhea, the puzzle sunflowers are unaffected at this time.

At the present time the town of Grants is economically depressed and development has been slow to impact the sunflower habitat. Although several businesses have been established by dumping fill into the playa, only one hotel appears to have displaced some puzzle sunflowers and only two buildings have so far been built out in the playa within suitable habitat. However, fill construction projects cannot be accurately predicted and the town of Grants is less than hour and a half away from Albuquerque and even closer to the rapidly expanding city of Rio Rancho.

Although the New Mexico Highway department is working on modifying its mowing schedules, herbicide drift could still potentially affect the sunflowers' population density in the highway rights-of-way. A management and monitoring agreement between Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Department of Transportation is in place for the one puzzle sunflower population in Texas on highway right-of-way. Herbicides are not used in the area, and the creek has been fenced to prevent mowing.

Water uses: Dike and levee maintenance at the Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge is necessary to maintain the large area of suitable habitat and high density of puzzle sunflowers. In the future, different priorities may lead to changing water levels that may negatively impact the population. The lake at the Bottomless Lakes State Park has been developed into a picnic area and campground. The number of plants there represents a relatively very healthy population but it is unknown as to how the development has affected the original population. In terms of sustainability it probably does not matter if there are one hundred or one million plants at a spring fed wetland. Once the spring dries up, all plants will disappear. Many springs are now dry due to ground water pumping for irrigation and development. Other springs have gone dry due to salt cedar invasion or have been filled. Although the trend in wetland losses is probably slower than in the past, it is still continuing. Domestic water use in New Mexico is increasing due to housing/urban development.


Pollution: The Diamond Y Preserve population in west Texas sits in the midst of a very active oil and gas field. There is also a gas plant within a few miles of the site. Although various measures have been taken to ensure the containment of an oil spill, accidents do happen. Contamination of the aquifer, spring, or groundwater could be detrimental for puzzle sunflower.

Short-term Trend: Relatively Stable (<=10% change)
Short-term Trend Comments: At the present time (1998), the populations of puzzle sunflower seem to be stable, and some have potential for growth in the permanently wet areas where they grow. However, in terms of long-term sustainability, the species is totally dependent on consistent spring flow. If occupied spring sites dry up, puzzle sunflower will be extirpated. In west Texas many springs have already gone dry (Brune 1981).

Intrinsic Vulnerability Comments: Very dependent on habitat type and condition.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: At present puzzle sunflower occurs in two general areas in Pecos and Reeves Counties in west Texas and four general areas in New Mexico. Historically there were six other locations within Pecos and Reeves Counties; however all except one of these sites have not been relocated due to imprecise locality data and the lack of access to private land. The relocated site was heavily invaded by salt cedar and had little water left. No puzzle sunflowers were found, although the entire site was not searched.

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 NM, TX

Range Map
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U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
NM Chaves (35005), Cibola (35006), Guadalupe (35019), Socorro (35053), Valencia (35061)
TX Pecos (48371), Reeves (48389)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
13 Rio Grande-Albuquerque (13020203)+, North Plains (13020206)+, Rio San Jose (13020207)+, Pecos headwaters (13060001)+, Upper Pecos-Long Arroyo (13060007)+, Rio Hondo (13060008)+, Toyah (13070003)+, Landreth-Monument Draws (13070007)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: An annual herb with stems 1-2 m tall. Flower heads have yellow rays and are 3-5 cm across. Blooms August-November.
General Description: Annual plant with stems 1-2 m tall. Leaves three veined, lanceolate and tapering to a short stalk. Mostly the leaf margins are without teeth but the lower leaves are sometimes remotely toothed. The flower heads are 3-5 cm in diameter with 12-20 yellow ray flowers. The achenes are hairless or nearly so with two short scales, which readily drop off, at the summit.
Technical Description: Taprooted annual 1-2 m tall, the stem sparsely scabrous; leaves opposite below, alternate above; lower blades lanceolate, 10-25 cm long, 2.5-10 cm broad, 3-nerved, entire, rough; petioles 2 cm long; peduncles 3 to 50, 12-25 cm long; phyllaries 16-20, ovate-lanceolate or ovate, sparsely hispid, 10mm long, 3mm broad; disk about 18 mm across; rays12-20, 17 mm long, 7 mm broad; disk corolla purple; pales apically glabrous.
Diagnostic Characteristics: Puzzle sunflower differs from the common sunflower (H. annuus) in having narrower, lanceolate leaves (vs. deltoid leaves), fewer hairs on the leaves, nearly glabrous stems, lanceolate phyllaries (vs. deltoid phyllaries), slightly smaller flower heads with fewer ray flowers, and flowering confined to autumn (September, October) as compared to the spring through fall flowering of the common sunflower. The habitat of puzzle sunflower is also different from that of the common sunflower. Puzzle sunflower grows in saturated, saline soils of marshes while the common sunflower usually occurs in disturbed soils that are dry during mid-summer.
Duration: ANNUAL
Reproduction Comments: No specific research has been conducted on the reproduction of this species. The reproductive biology is likely to be very similar to that of the common sunflower, H. annuus.
Ecology Comments: Research has provided some insight into the ecology of puzzle sunflower. Studies of the effects of cattle on puzzle sunflower have shown both positive and negative interactions (Van Auken and Bush 1993, 1995). Cattle eat and/or trample puzzle sunflower, reducing the number of flower heads and seeds as well as the dry mass of the stems, leaves, and flower heads. However cattle disturbance of the surrounding vegetation may supply puzzle sunflower with light gaps for germination and growth, and lessen competition (Bush and Van Auken 1997). Numerous experiments have been conducted both in and ex situ on competition between puzzle sunflower and its associates (Van Auken and Bush 1993, 1994, 1995). With competitors removed, puzzle sunflower exhibited greater basal stem diameter, more flower heads, and greater flower head, leaf, and stem dry mass (Bush and Van Auken 1997).

Annual species of sunflowers hybridize in cultivation, but have reduced pollen viability and seed fertility (Heiser 1965, 1969). Under natural conditions most annual sunflower species are allopatric with the exception of the common sunflower, Helianthus annuus. Hybrids of puzzle and common sunflower have been observed at Diamond Y Preserve in west Texas and in the Santa Rosa area of New Mexico. Puzzle sunflower is a species of hybrid origin ( Rieseberg et al. 1990; Rieseberg 1991). The parental species are the common sunflower and the prairie sunflower, H. petiolaris. These two species occupy different habitats from puzzle sunflower. Common sunflower grows on disturbed soils that are wet in spring but dry in summer, while prairie sunflower occurs on sandy, usually dry, soils. Both common and prairie sunflower bloom primarily in the spring and summer while puzzle sunflower blooms in the fall. However common sunflower often invades disturbed sites around puzzle sunflower populations and can flower into the fall, thus opening the possibility for hybridization.

Van Auken and Bush (1995) tested puzzle sunflower to determine if it was mycorrhizal. The greenhouse experiments, done with non-native soil, indicated that puzzle sunflower was an obligate mycorrhizal species.

Riverine Habitat(s): SPRING/SPRING BROOK
Palustrine Habitat(s): HERBACEOUS WETLAND, Riparian
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Desert
Habitat Comments: Helianthus paradoxus is the only sunflower in the Southwest United States that requires permanent wetlands for its survival. Puzzle sunflowers grow in saline soils that are permanently saturated. Areas that maintain these conditions are commonly called cienegas (desert wetlands) associated with springs. However the required conditions may be also be found at stream margins and at the margins of impoundments. Where plants are associated with the latter the impoundments have replaced the natural cienegas. Plants commonly associated with cienegas are Distichlis spicata (saltgrass), Sporobolus airoides (alkali sacaton), Muhlenbergia asperifolia (alkali muhly), Phragmites australis (common reed), Scirpus olneyi (Olney bulrush), Juncus mexicanus (mexican rush), Limonium limbatum (Trans-Pecos sea lavender), Samolus cuneatus (limewater brookweed), Flaveria chloraefolia, Suaeda calceoliformis (Pursh seepweed), and Tamarix spp. (saltcedar). Puzzle sunflower occupies a distinct zone within the cienega. It rarely occurs on drier sites with alkali sacaton, or in the wettest soils near the water's edge with Olney bulrush. Rather puzzle sunflower grows in sites dominated by saltgrass and other less frequent herbaceous species such as Trans-Pecos sea lavender, limewater brookweed, and Flaveria chloraefolia.

In New Mexico the population at the Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge is the most secure. The impoundments and springs at the wildlife refuge are relatively stable and it is not anticipated that they will be grazed or seriously altered. The other significant New Mexico population is near the town of Santa Rosa in the upper Pecos River basin. The largest and best population of Helianthus paradoxus in this upper Pecos River basin is on private land that the owner would prefer to drain rather than conserve. The botanist for the State of New Mexico, Robert Sivinski, is working with the US Fish and Wildlife Service on a conservation program for this species in New Mexico. Sivinski has made the recommendation that purchase of this land would be the best solution. At least three other sensitive plant species grow at this cienega. The three are Cirsium wrightii (Wrights marsh thistle) which is currently a US Fish & Wildlife species of concern, and two plant species currently listed as rare species by the State of New Mexico, Eustoma russellianum (Prairie gentian) and Fimbristylis puberula var. interior (inland fimbristylis). These two latter species are also described as 'sensitive' by the State of New Mexico due to their habitat requirements.

Only two extant populations are known in Texas. One is on The Nature Conservancy's Diamond Y Preserve near Fort Stockton, and the other on the East Sandia Springs Preserve near Balmorhea. Both sites are owned and actively managed by the Conservancy. Both sites are cienegas in fairly good condition, but require active management, particularly exotic species and common sunflower removal, to maintain their quality. The puzzle sunflower population at Diamond Y consists of hundreds of thousands of individuals while the East Sandia Springs site is smaller, with only thousands of individuals. 1200 m.

Economic Attributes
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Economically Important Genus: Y
Economic Comments: Potentially, genes for salt tolerance, as well as flooding tolerance, may exist in this species, and could be exploited by the sunflower oil production and sunflower breeding industries.
Management Summary
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Stewardship Overview: Puzzle sunflower is a rare, annual species with few, scattered populations of numerous individuals, dependent on permanent wetlands within the arid Southwest. This species is proposed as 'Threatened' by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

General management concerns include preservation of natural hydrologic regimes, water and soil quality and composition, control of invasive exotics, removal of other annual sunflower species, and regulation of grazing, burning, mowing, herbicide use, and mechanical soil disturbance. Nothing is known about pollination biology or soil seed bank ecology, but these two important aspects need to be studied for proper management.

Assuring the natural hydrologic regime is of utmost importance for the survival of the puzzle sunflower. Intense groundwater pumping which lowers the water table is detrimental. Also any features or structures such as dams, levees, diversions, roads, pipes, paths, etc. in the wetland affect hydrological pathways by altering surface flow and runoff, flooding duration and frequency, and nutrient transport. Such changes affect the distribution and density of puzzle sunflower within the wetland.

Puzzle sunflower occurs in wetlands with relatively high levels of salinity, both in the water and the soil (Bush and Van Auken 1997). However puzzle sunflower is reliant on a delicate balance of temporally varying salinity. In the late fall to early spring, puzzle sunflower is dependent on a high water table to leach the salt from the soil surface which allows a narrow window for germination and establishment of roots in the lower soil levels where salinity is less (Van Auken and Bush 1995, 1998). Changes in the water table level will affect leaching, and thus the extent of the puzzle sunflower population.

Salt cedar (Tamarix spp.) need to be controlled (mechanically removed, herbicided, burned, etc.) as these trees create a monoculture, robbing biodiversity and water from wetlands. Other annual sunflower species, in particular the common sunflower, hybridize with puzzle sunflower. Although few hybrids have been observed, Rieseberg (pers. comm. 1991) recommends that in order to avoid hybridization all annual sunflowers within a mile of puzzle sunflower populations be removed.

Studies indicated that common management practices such as grazing, burning, mowing, herbicide use, and mechanical soil disturbance, all affect puzzle sunflower (Van Auken and Bush 1993, 1994, 1995, 1998; Bush and Van Auken 1997). Through several years of grazing experiments, Van Auken and Bush found that grazing reduced the number of flower heads and seeds as well as the dry mass of the stems, leaves, and flower heads (Van Auken & Bush 1993, 1995). However Bush and Van Auken (1997) also noted that cattle may be beneficial in reducing the dry mass of neighboring species and creating light gaps for puzzle sunflower establishment. During the primary puzzle sunflower growing season, August through November, grazing should be carefully regulated, with cattle excluded or reduced to a rate that does not affect puzzle sunflower.

The removal of actively growing parts of puzzle sunflower whether through mowing, burning, herbicide use, or mechanical disturbance will have a detrimental effect. However research suggests (Van Auken and Bush 1993, 1995) that selective removal (i.e., clipping or herbiciding) of competing vegetation and early season (February) disturbance (i.e., burning or tilling) increase the dry mass and the number of flowers of puzzle sunflower if cattle are excluded during the sunflower's active growing season.

In Texas at the Diamond Y and East Sandia Springs Nature Conservancy preserves, active management is being implemented. Rotational grazing programs and exotic species removal are in place. Various experimental studies of puzzle sunflower at Diamond Y have been completed, and will aid in the management of this species. Hydrologic research has also been conducted. Although the springs have adequate water flow at present, the threat of aquifer draw-down still exists.

Restoration Potential: At occupied or potential habitat for puzzle sunflower, populations can be augmented or reintroduced (see Falk et al. 1996 for general reintroduction guidelines). Control of exotic invasives and annual sunflowers requires a long-term commitment, but is feasible in most situations. Common management practices can be modified to benefit puzzle sunflower. However, at dried-up marshes and springs vegetated by alkali sacaton or creosote bush, restoration of puzzle sunflower is as unlikely as the restoration of spring flow itself.

In 1996, saltcedar (Tamarix pentandra) was removed from an area within the Dexter National Fish Hatchery near Dexter in Chaves County, New Mexico. Six plants of puzzle sunflower were observed to come up in the area after the removal. In April 1997, a prescribed burn was conducted on the area. A few months later 75 plants were counted. This appearance of a new population raises interesting questions as to seed dispersal and longevity of the seed in the soil. It may also support the hypothesis that this species was once widely distributed and habitat degradation has caused the plants numbers and range to diminish. In 1980 the Texas Department of Transportation upgraded a bridge at the Diamond Y Creek crossing, destroying the highway right-of-way population of puzzle sunflower. However the plants had reappeared at the site by 1984. An underground fiber optic cable was placed at the same site in 1992, severely altering the habitat and destroying most of the puzzle sunflowers on the east side of the road. However by 1997 numbers of individuals were as high as pre-disturbance. At the Diamond Y Preserve according to the previous landowner, heavy overgrazing by the former owner's cattle had decimated both the puzzle sunflower population and the grassland. However under his judicious, rotational grazing program, puzzle sunflower made a full recovery. These observations lend encouragement that habitat enhancement measures may be successful in the recovery of this species.

Preserve Selection & Design Considerations: The overriding consideration in preserve selection and design for this species is long-term assurance of adequate water. Water rights may need to be purchased, or agreements with adjacent landowners acquired, in order to assure continuous water supply. A history of spring flow should be obtained to determine trends. Adjacent landuse within the recharge zone should be evaluated. Such sites may need to be protected from pollution and/or impervious cover. Large contiguous sites are preferable due to invasive exotic plants and common sunflower exploitation of disturbed edge habitat. However sites with exotics and/or common sunflowers can be managed, in the long run, to control such species. Likewise, heavily overgrazed sites usually recover quickly once cattle are removed or different grazing regimes are instituted.

A site that would be an excellent one for Nature Conservancy protection is owned by Mrs. Houlihan in Santa Rosa (Robert Sivinski, State Botanist of New Mexico, personal communication 1997; Sivinski 1996). This is the largest and best population of puzzle sunflower in the upper Pecos River basin. Unfortunately, Mrs. Houlihan would drain the wetland if only the cost was lower. Sivinski has made the recommendation that purchase of her land would be the best solution. At least three other sensitive plant species grow at this cienega. The three are Cirsium wrightii (Wrights marsh thistle) which is currently a US Fish & Wildlife species of concern and two plant species currently listed as rare and sensitive species by the State of New Mexico; Eustoma russellianum (Prairie gentian) and Fimbristylis puberula var. interior (inland fimbristylis).

Management Requirements: The most important management requirement is to maintain wetland habitat for the sunflower. Ground water levels and spring flows need to be frequently monitored to detect any downward trends early, and try to alleviate the problems. Surface flow and runoff, flood duration and frequency, and nutrient transport as well as water table level affect the density and distribution of puzzle sunflower. These hydrologic pathways are easily altered by dams, levees, roads, pipes, paths, etc. Such features may need to be eliminated or redesigned to avoid harm to puzzle sunflower.

Removal of saltcedar and Russian olive from puzzle sunflower habitat is an important management recommendation. Saltcedars may be mechanically removed, herbicided, and/or burned (see The Nature Conservancy's Element Stewardship Abstract report for Tamarix spp.). Biological control may be a future possibility, but at present none of the above techniques are known to be totally effective. A long-term commitment is necessary to control this invasive species. The same is true for the removal of other annual sunflower species within one mile of puzzle sunflower. Annual sunflowers are easily pulled up or cut off at the soil surface. Several removals may be needed throughout the growing season during the first year.

Grazing needs to be carefully controlled. Rotational grazing with cattle removed during the active growing season of puzzle sunflower (usually August through November) is compatible. Alternatively, puzzle sunflower areas could be fenced. However there is some evidence that cattle maybe beneficial in reducing competition and creating light gaps for germination and establishment. Burning, tilling, clipping/mowing, and selective herbiciding of competing vegetation also has a positive effect on puzzle sunflower.

Numerous studies by Van Auken and Bush (1993, 1994, 1995, 1998; Bush and Van Auken 1997) have offered insight into the management of puzzle sunflower and its habitat. Their research on grazing and competition (Van Auken and Bush 1993, 1995; Bush and Van Auken 1997) lead them to conclude that grazing reduces the number of flower heads and seeds as well as the dry mass of the stems, leaves, and flower heads, but competition reduces the same characters as much, if not more. Disturbance (i.e., burning or tilling) is also beneficial in that it also reduces competition (Van Auken and Bush 1993, 1995). In other studies Van Auken and Bush (1993, 1994, 1995, 1998; Bush and Van Auken 1997) pinpointed the microhabitat of puzzle sunflower and its placement within the community matrix. Salinity, soil water profile, and water table level affect the density and distribution of puzzle sunflower, and are altered by fluctuating water tables, spring flows, and aquifer levels. Van Auken and Bush (1998) suggest restricted water pumping during droughts.

Monitoring Requirements: Monitoring should include mapping the individuals, or clumps of individuals, as well as a specific count of individuals at each site to determine the spatial dynamics of the populations. At sites with few individuals (<1000), the number of individuals should be counted. In larger populations, density should be determined, and the number of individuals estimated from the total occupied acreage. Maps of the occupied habitat should be drawn to compare the shifts in physical location from year to year. To track vigor, the number of individuals, the number of stems per plant, and the basal stem diameter should be measured on at least a subset of the individuals. Reproductive output should be followed by recording number of flowering heads per plant. Monitoring should be done on an annual basis during the flowering season.

Management Programs: In New Mexico, Robert Sivinski, the State botanist, has been working with the US Fish and Wildlife Service to set up a conservation program for this species. The conservation program in which Sivinski has been participating is in two parts. One is monitoring known sites and surveying for new populations. The second part has been to identify and contact private and municipal property owners with significant segments of large sunflower populations. Tentative agreements for some degree of habitat protection was obtained for seven sites representing three H. paradoxus population areas in New Mexico. Details of individual management plans will be finalized and formal agreements signed by late 1998. As I (JARL) understand it, the monitoring and surveying activities are dependent upon US Fish and Wildlife Service funding and will not continue indefinitely.

In New Mexico, the population at the Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge is the most secure. The impoundments and springs at the wildlife refuge are relatively stable and it is not anticipated that they will be grazed or seriously altered. The other significant New Mexico population is in the town of Santa Rosa. Unfortunately, the best and largest population is on property that the owner would like to drain. Another site is on a little used country club, and invitations to the caretaker to participate in a conservation effort prompted no response. Of the six sites in New Mexico that are owned by private landholders only one (near Grants) is definitely interested in participating in a conservation effort. However, the landowner is unwilling to modify her grazing practices. There are several small sites on land owned and administered by the City of Santa Rosa and the City of Roswell. Both City governments have expressed that they are willing to participate in a conservation effort. The City of Santa Rosa seems, at the current time, the most committed and is interested in any federal funds that may facilitate their protection of the plants, e.g. in developing their parks. The park manager of the Bottomless Lakes State Park is willing to maintain the current status of the shoreline facilities on the lake but was against the idea of restricting recreational access to the sunflower-inhabited areas of the shoreline. Apparently the sunflower can coexist with the current recreational use of the lake (Sivinski 1995).

A maintenance schedule that will avoid mowing the sunflower during the months of August and September has been established for plants within the highway right-of-way fence in Santa Rosa. For the plants within the highway right-of-way fence along I-40, a maintenance schedule is also being arranged by environmental specialist Steve Reed of the New Mexico Highway Department.

John Karges, West Texas Land Steward for The Nature Conservancy, maintains an active management program at both Diamond Y and East Sandia Springs Preserves. At Diamond Y Preserve, water levels in the marsh are checked regularly, salt cedar is controlled mechanically, annual sunflowers are removed, grazing is regulated (cattle removed from August through November), and management research is encouraged and enabled. At the newly acquired East Sandia Springs Preserve, salt cedar removal by mechanical means has begun, and annual sunflowers will be removed. The puzzle sunflowers in the highway right-of-way along Diamond Y Creek are managed jointly by the Conservancy and the Texas Department of Transportation. The population is fenced to prevent mowing, and herbicides are not used in the immediate area.

Monitoring Programs:

The staff at the Bottomless Lakes State Park is willing to monitor the population at the shoreline. Robert Sivinski, the New Mexico State botanist, is working with the US Fish and Wildlife Service to set up a conservation program for this species in New Mexico.

The population on highway right-of-way along Diamond Y Creek in Texas has been monitored annually since 1991 by Endangered Resources Program staff of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Numbers of individuals within designated blocks are counted on an annual basis.

Management Research Programs: Dr. O.W. Van Auken (Division of Life Science, The University of Texas at San Antonio, Texas) is continuing to pursue research on puzzle sunflower. He is interested in seed germination requirements, seed viability and longevity in the soil, population fluctuation, and the effects of grazing (Bush and Van Auken, 1997). Understanding any or all of these topics would assist in species management.

For several years, Van Auken has mapped and determined the density of puzzle sunflowers on Diamond Y Preserve in order to estimate the number of individuals in the population. His grazing research consists of circular, 0.1 hectare exclosures and control plots, and are usually combined with other studies of competition, disturbance, etc. Replication is adequate. Parameters were measured at two month intervals, and consisted of stem length, basal diameter, number of leaves, number of flower heads, and dry mass of leaves, stems, flower heads, and entire plants at the end of the growing season. Data were analyzed by ANOVA and the Scheffe Multiple Comparison Test. Van Auken has conducted too many experiments to detail more methods here. Detailed methods and results are available in the following: Van Auken and Bush 1993, 1994, 1995, 1998; and Bush and Van Auken 1997.

Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 03Jul1998
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Edmondson, L. (1983); B. Carr, rev. Maybury (1996); rev. J. Ladyman (1997); rev. J. Ladyman and J. Poole (1998)
Management Information Edition Date: 03Jul1998
Management Information Edition Author: JUANITA A. R. LADYMAN (NM NATURAL HERITAGE PROGRAM); JACKIE M. POOLE (TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE DEPARTMENT)
Management Information Acknowledgments:

John Karges, West Texas Land Steward, The Nature Conservancy of Texas, Alpine, Texas

Dr. Charlie McDonald, Ecological Services Office, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Bob Sivinski, New Mexico Forestry and Resources Conservation Division, Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Dept., Santa Fe, New Mexico

Dr. O.W. Van Auken, Division of Life Science, The University of Texas at San Antonio, Texas .

Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 09Apr1997

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).

References
Help
  • Brune, G. 1981. Springs of Texas. Volume 1. Branch-Smith, Inc. Fort Worth, Texas.

  • Bush, J.K., and O.W. Van Auken. 1997. The effects of neighbors and grazing on the growth of HELIANTHUS PARADOXUS. Southwestern Naturalist 42:416-422.

  • Correll, D.S., and M.C. Johnston. 1970. Manual of the vascular plants of Texas. Texas Research Foundation, Renner. 1881 pp.

  • Correll, D.S., and M.C. Johnston. 1979. Manual of the vascular plants of Texas. University of Texas at Dallas.

  • Falk, D.A., C.I. Millar, and M. Olwell. 1996. Restoring diversity: strategies for reintroduction of endangered plants. Island Press, Washington, D.C.

  • Flora of North America Editorial Committee. 2006c. Flora of North America North of Mexico. Vol. 21. Magnoliophyta: Asteridae, part 8: Asteraceae, part 3. Oxford Univ. Press, New York. xxii + 616 pp.

  • Heiser, C.B., Jr. 1958. Three new annual sunflowers (Helianthus) from the southewestern U.S. Rhodora 60: 272-274.

  • Heiser, C.B., Jr., with D.M. Smith, S.B. Clevenger, and W.C. Martin, Jr. 1969. The North American sunflowers (Helianthus). Memoirs of the Torrey Botanical Club 22(3). 218 pp.

  • Heiser, Jr., C.B. 1965. Species crosses in HELIANTHUS: III. Delimitation of "sections". Ann. Missouri Botanical Garden 52(3):364-370.

  • 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.

  • Lea, A. 1996. NMHP cooperators plant occurrence specimen data collection forms generated from specimen information in University of New Mexico Herbarium.

  • Miller, D.J., A.M. Powell, and G.J. Seiler. 1982. Status report [on Helianthus paradoxus]. Report prepared for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

  • New Mexico Native Plant Protection Advisory Committee. 1984. A handbook of rare and endemic plants of New Mexico. Univ. New Mexico Press, Albuquerque. 291 pp.

  • Poole, J.M. 1992. Puzzle sunflower (Helianthus paradoxus): a status report update. Report prepared for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

  • Poole, J.M., and D.D. Diamond. 1992. Habitat characterization and subsequent searches for HELIANTHUS PARADOXUS (puzzle sunflower). In Sivinski, R., and K. Lightfoot, eds. Proceedings of the Southwestern Rare Plant Conference. New Mexico Forestry and Resources Conservation Division, Misc. Publ. 2.

  • Poole, J.M., and D.D. Diamond. Undated. Habitat characterization and subsequent searches for Helianthus paradoxus (puzzle sunflower). Unpublished manuscript, Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept, Austin.

  • Poole, Jackie M., W. R. Carr, D. M. Price, and J. R. Singhurst. 2007. Rare plants of Texas. Texas A&M University Press, College Station. 640 pp.

  • Rieseberg, L.H. 1991. Hybridization in rare plants: insights from case studies in CERCOCARPUS and HELIANTHUS. In Falk, D.E. and K.E. Holsinger, eds. Genetics and conservation of rare plants. Oxford University Press.

  • Riesenberg, L.H., R. Carter, and S. Zona. 1990. Molecular tests of the hypothesized origin of two diploid Helianthus species (Asteraceae). Evolution 44(6): 1498-1511.

  • Seiler, G.J., L. Cuk, and C.E. Rogers. 1981. New and interesting distribution records for Helianthus paradoxus (heiser) Asteraceae. Southwestern Naturalist 26(4): 431-432.

  • Siler, G.J., and C.E. Rogers. 1981. New and interesting distribution records for HELIANTHUS PARADOXUS. Southwestern Naturalist 6(4):431.

  • Sivinski, R. 1992. Endangered plant study performance report for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 60 pp.

  • Sivinski, R. 1995. Section 6, segment 10. Annual report of botanical work accomplished by New Mexico Forestry and Natural Resources Department for Fish and Wildlife Service, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

  • Sivinski, R. 1996. Section 6, segment 10. Annual report of botanical work accomplished by New Mexico Forestry and Natural Resources Department for Fish and Wildlife Service, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

  • Van Auken, O.W. and J.K. Bush. 1993. Final report - 1992. The puzzle sunflower: management requirements of a low density species with limited range. Prepared for the Texas Nature Conservancy.

  • Van Auken, O.W. and J.K. Bush. 1994. Final report - Factors affecting the growth and distribution of HELIANTHUS PARADOXUS - the puzzle sunflower. Prepared for The Nature Conservancy of Texas.

  • Van Auken, O.W. and J.K. Bush. 1995. Section 6, Performance Report: The management of puzzle sunflower (HELIANTHUS PARADOXUS). Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Austin.

  • Van Auken, O.W., and J.K. Bush. 1998. Spatial relationships of HELIANTHUS PARADOXUS (Compositae) and associated salt marsh plants. Southwestern Naturalist, in press.

  • Warnock, B.H. 1974. Wildflowers of the Guadalupe Mountains and the sand dune country, Texas. Sul Ross State Univ., Alpine, Texas. 176 pp.

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