Sphaeralcea gierischii - N. D. Atwood & S. L. Welsh
Gierisch's Globemallow
Other Common Names: Gierisch's globemallow
Taxonomic Status: Provisionally accepted
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.777927
Element Code: PDMAL140T0
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Mallow Family
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Dicotyledoneae Malvales Malvaceae Sphaeralcea
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Atwood, N. D., and S. L. Welsh. 2002. Overview of Sphaeralcea (Malvaceae) in southern Utah and northern Arizona, U.S.A. and description of a new species. Novon 12(2):159-166.
Concept Reference Code: A02ATW02HQUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Sphaeralcea gierischii
Taxonomic Comments: Sphaeralcea gierischii is a species described in 2002 from Utah and Arizona (Atwood and Welsh 2002. Novon 12: 159-166). This species is similar to S. rusbyi but has glabrous or glabrescent herbage with few or no stellate hairs.
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G1
Global Status Last Reviewed: 11Nov2013
Global Status Last Changed: 17May2005
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by calculator
Rounded Global Status: G1 - Critically Imperiled
Reasons: Endemic to a small area straddling the Utah-Arizona state line, in northwestern Mohave County, AZ and closely adjacent Washington County, UT; closely associated with gypsum outcrops of the Harrisburg Member of the Kaibab Formation. Five occurrences are known, four in Arizona and one in Utah. The two largest occurrences in Arizona represent over 90% of the total population; both of these occurrences are threatened by active gypsum mining operations, which can completely destroy the plant's habitat. The Utah occurrence is threatened by increasing OHV use, illegal dumping, and impacts associated with target shooting. All but one occurrence are also within grazing allotments; cattle herbivory of flower stalks has been observed on numerous occasions, particularly in dry years.
Nation: United States
National Status: N1

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 Arizona (S1), Utah (S1)

Other Statuses

U.S. Endangered Species Act (USESA): LE: Listed endangered (13Aug2013)
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Lead Region: R2 - Southwest

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: Endemic to a small area straddling the Utah-Arizona state line, in northwestern Mohave County, Arizona (vicinity of Black Rock Gulch, Black Knolls, and Pigeon Canyon) and closely adjacent Washington County, Utah (Little Round Valley), in close association with gypsum outcrops of the Harrisburg Member of the Kaibab Formation. According to Falk (2008) and Franklin (2005), the entire north-south distribution does not appear to exceed 15 km, and the map in USFWS (2010) shows a very narrow east-west span. Extent of occurrence is approximately 30 sq.km (EO data in the NatureServe database as of November 2010). No information is available regarding the historical range of this species, so it is unknown whether nearby gypsum hills may once have supported additional occurrences that have since been extirpated (e.g. by mining) (USFWS 2010).

Area of Occupancy: 3-25 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments: Actual area occupied is estimated to be approximately 0.24 sq. km (Falk 2008), but using the 2 x 2 km grid method, 5-7 cells would be occupied (EO data in the NatureServe database as of November 2010).

Number of Occurrences: 1 - 5
Number of Occurrences Comments: 4 occurrences occur in a small area of northwest Mohave County, Arizona while 1 occurrence occurs across the border in Utah. All occurrences are restricted to less than approximately 186 ha (460 ac). Since surveys began, no new populations have been found outside of known areas. (USFWS, 2013). The habitat strongly preferred by this species - gypsum outcrops associated with the Harrisburg Member in northern Arizona and southern Utah - have been extensively surveyed, so it is not expected that many more occurrences of this species will be found (Falk 2008; USFWS 2010).

Population Size Comments: Surveys by Hughes (2012a in USFWS 2013) estimate total population size to be between 11,000 and 18,000 individuals in Arizona. Hughes (2008a, p. 12; Highes 2009, p. 15; in USFWS 2013) conducted more extensive surveys of gypsiferous soils in Utah and estimated the population to be between 5,000 and 8,000 individuals.

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Unknown

Overall Threat Impact: Very high
Overall Threat Impact Comments: In Arizona, this species is highly threatened by gypsum mining activities. In the area where this species occurs, many of the most valuable gypsum deposits are not at ground level; surface materials are removed, stockpiled, and then used to reclaim the area after the gypsum has been removed. This process is highly destructive to this species' habitat. The largest known occurrence coincides with an active gypsum mining operation; the owner of this operation seeks to further expand activities such that the vast majority of plants at this site would be impacted. The second largest known occurrence also coincides with an active gypsum mining claim; although the mine was inactive in 2008, this land is leased for mining until 2026 and activity could resume at any time. Together, these two occurrences comprise over 90 percent of the known population of this species. The extent to which restoration efforts can mitigate habitat degradation from mining is unknown. In Utah, threats are less severe but still notable; threats include unauthorized OHV use (off of designated roads), illegal dumping, and impacts associated with target shooting (e.g. trampling). These threats are increasing due to the proximity of St. George, UT and its growing population. In addition, all of the occurrences on BLM lands (i.e. all but one occurrence) are within grazing allotments, and herbivory of flowering stalks by livestock has been documented on numerous occasions. This herbivory occurs during both drought and non-drought years but is worse in drought years. Repeated herbivory of flowering stalks may impact recruitment (Franklin 2005, USFWS 2010). Invasive plant species (especially red brome and cheatgrass) and associated wildfires also constitute a significant threat to this species (USFWS 2012).

Short-term Trend: Decline of 10-30%
Short-term Trend Comments: Per USFWS (2013 FR listing), "Since surveys began, no new populations have been found outside of the known areas. Hughes (2008) reported counts for transects on two rehabilitated sites within the Western Mining and Minerals, Inc., gypsum operation on and near Hill 4, where 85 and 60 plants were counted on the two transects in 2008. These plants are reestablishing themselves in the reclaimed areas from the original seed bank. Hughes (2009) counted 50 and 32 plants on these sites in 2009. In 2011, Hughes (2012) completed transect surveys on the same reclaimed sites as he did in 2008 and 2009, and counted 67 plants on one rehabilitated site and 1 plant on the other rehabilitated site. Data from surveys conducted in 2012 indicate a slight increase in the population of Gierisch mallow on both reclaimed sites (Hughes 2012). Hughes (2012) also indicates that 2012 precipitation levels were very low in the winter and spring, while summer precipitation was above average. We do not have any information to indicate why there was a substantial decrease in plant numbers at these reclaimed areas for 3 years, especially since 2010 and 2011 were significant moisture years (Hughes 2011; Hughes 2012). Because the Gierisch mallow is only found in gypsiferous soils, it is possible that they are declining due to disruption of the original soil composition in these reclaimed soils. Outside of the reclaimed areas, some populations of the Gierisch mallow appear to be fluctuating annually according to data provided by Hughes (2011). Some populations appear to be decreasing, others have shown slight increases, and some populations have remained stable (Hughes 2011; Hughes 2012)."

Long-term Trend: Unknown

Intrinsic Vulnerability Comments: A plant of limited range and distribution, including being found in a specific soil composition (gypsum outcrops), it is highly susceptible to habitat destruction and modification.

Environmental Specificity: Very narrow. Specialist or community with key requirements scarce.
Environmental Specificity Comments: Only found on gypsum outcrops associated with Harrisburg Member of the Kaibab Formation in northern Mohave County, Arizona and Washington County, Utah. The Harrisburg Member is the most recent (topmost) exposed geologic layer of the Kaibab Formation. Gierisch mallow has been documented growing on all slopes and aspects (USFWS 2012, 2013). The plant community is warm desertscrub, sepcifically Mojave desertscrub.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: Endemic to a small area straddling the Utah-Arizona state line, in northwestern Mohave County, Arizona (vicinity of Black Rock Gulch, Black Knolls, and Pigeon Canyon) and closely adjacent Washington County, Utah (Little Round Valley), in close association with gypsum outcrops of the Harrisburg Member of the Kaibab Formation. According to Falk (2008) and Franklin (2005), the entire north-south distribution does not appear to exceed 15 km, and the map in USFWS (2010) shows a very narrow east-west span. Extent of occurrence is approximately 30 sq.km (EO data in the NatureServe database as of November 2010). No information is available regarding the historical range of this species, so it is unknown whether nearby gypsum hills may once have supported additional occurrences that have since been extirpated (e.g. by mining) (USFWS 2010).

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 AZ, UT

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
AZ Mohave (04015)
UT Washington (49053)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
15 Lower Virgin (15010010)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: Perennial herb with few to many, 43-103 cm tall stems. Stems are often dark red-purple, sparingly leafy, and in tall, open clumps. Foliage is bright green and hairless. Leaves are are egg-shaped or somewhat heart-shaped, with 3-5 lobes. Flowers occur in an open arrangement on the stem, with each having 15-25 mm long orange petals. Blooms April - early June.
General Description: A perennial herb with few to many stems from a woody caudex (short, thickened, woody stem, subterranean or at ground-level). Stems are 43-103 cm tall, sparingly leafy, often dark red-purple, and in tall, open clumps. The foliage is bright green and essentially hairless. The leaf blades are 1.2-4 cm long, 1-5 cm wide; usually longer than wide. The leaves are egg-shaped or somewhat heart-shaped, the base heart-shaped to even-ended, with 3-5 lobes. The flowering stem is open, usually with more than one flower per node. The calyx is 5-10 mm long, green, essentially hairless, and the orange petals are 15-25 mm long (Atwood and Welsh 2002 cited in Falk 2008).
Technical Description: From Atwood and Welsh (2002) and AGFD (2005): A perennial herb with few to many stems from a woody caudex, 4.3-10.3 dm tall. The stems are often dark red-purple, are only sparingly leafy, and are produced in tall, open clumps. The herbage is bright green, and the pubescence on the herbage is sparse to absent. The main foliage leaves in the lower portion of the stems are large, with the central lobe greatly elongated and having a long-crenulate base. Leaf blades 1.2-4 cm long, 1-5 cm wide, usually longer than wide, ovate to cordate-ovate in outline, the base cordate to truncate or obtuse, 3- to 5-lobed, the main division entire or cleft or parted to irregularly toothed. The inflorescence is thyrsoid (open), with usually more than 1 flower per node, or glomerate-paniculate with 2-5 flowers on axillary peduncles; pedicels shorter than to much longer than the calyx (to 7 cm long); bracteoles are linear, often red-purple and contrasting with the calyx. The calyx is 5-10 mm long, green, becoming stramineous in fruit, with pubescence consisting of one or a few trichomes when any hairs are present at all, the rays of hairs mainly radiating in a single plane, the lobes ovate to lance-acuminate. Petals are 15-25 mm long, orange (grenadine); carpels 10-15, 4.5-5.5 mm high, the reticulate portion forming from 2/5 to 3/5 of the lower portion of the carpel, reticulate on the sides.
Diagnostic Characteristics: Sphaeralcea gierischii is distinguished from S. rusbyi by its glabrous or glabrescent foliage, stellate pubescence sparse or lacking and if present confined to leaf margins (rarely a few stellate trichomes on the blade surface), and larger (15-25 mm long) flowers. It is distinguished from S. moorei by its 3- to 5-parted, narrow leaf lobes, and its bright green leaves sometimes suffused with red-purple. S. ambigua differs from S. gierischii in its dense white to yellow canescent, thick, usually rugose, prominent veined, deltoid to nearly orbicular cordate-based leaves, short pedicels, and larger prominent reticulate carpels (12-16 mm high) (Atwood and Welsh 2002).
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Desert
Habitat Comments: Found mainly on gypsiferous outcrops of the Harrisburg Member of the Kaibab Formation (considered to be essentially an obligate gypsophile); also collected on the Moenkopi Formation and on limestone rock/soil. Tends to occur on low terraces with clay to gravelly soil, on north-facing slopes of 5-30%. Plant community is warm desert shrub (Mohave desertscrub), with dominants including creosote bush (Larrea tridentata), blackbrush (Coleogyne ramosissima), saltbush (Atriplex sp.), Yucca sp., Ambrosia sp., and Ephedra sp. Other associated genera and species include: Chrysothamnus, Dalea (prairie-clover), Hilaria jamesii (James' galleta), Hymenoclea salsola (burrow-brush), Lycium andersonii (desert-thorn), Opuntia, Petalonyx (sandpaper-plant), Psorothamnus (indigo bush), Purshia (cliffrose), and gypsiferous biological soil crust species. 700-1300 m.
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary Not yet assessed
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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: 17May2005
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: ver, L., rev. K. Gravuer (2009), rev. A. Tomaino (2010), rev. S. Schuetze (2013)

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
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  • Arizona Game and Fish Department. 2005. Sphaeralcea gierischii N.D. Atwood & S.L. Welsh. Unpublished abstract compiled and edited by the Heritage Data Management System, Arizona Game and Fish Department, Phoenix, AZ. 4 pp.

  • Atwood, N. D., and S. L. Welsh. 2002. Overview of Sphaeralcea (Malvaceae) in southern Utah and northern Arizona, U.S.A. and description of a new species. Novon 12(2):159-166.

  • Atwood, N. D., and S. L. Welsh. 2002. Overview of Sphaeralcea (Malvaceae) in southern Utah and northern Arizona, U.S.A., and description of a new species. Novon 12(2): 159-166.

  • Falk, M. 2008. September-last update. Species Assessment and Listing Priority Assignment Form: Sphaeralcea gierischii. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Endangered Species Program. Online. Available: http://ecos.fws.gov/docs/candforms_pdf/r2/Q3LJ_P01.pdf (Accessed 2009).

  • Franklin, M.A. 2005. Plant information compiled by the Utah Natural Heritage Program: A progress report. Publication Number 05-40. Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Salt Lake City, Utah. 341 pp. [http://dwrcdc.nr.utah.gov/ucdc/ViewReports/plantrpt.htm]

  • Holmgren, N.H., P.K. Holmgren, and A. Cronquist. 2005. Intermountain flora. Volume 2, part B. Subclass Dilleniidae. The New York Botanical Garden Press. 488 pages.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 2008. 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 73(238): 75176-75244.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 2010. April last update. Species assessment and listing priority assignment form: Sphaeralcea gierischii. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Endangered Species Program. Online. Available: http://ecos.fws.gov/docs/candforms_pdf/r2/Q3LJ_P01.pdf (Accessed 2010).

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 2012. Determination of Status for the Gierisch Mallow and Designation of Critical Habitat. Federal Register 77(160): 49894-49919.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 2013. Determination of Endangered Status for Sphaeralcea gierischii (Gierisch Mallow) Throughout Its Range. Federal Register 78(156): 49149-49165.

  • Utah Native Plant Society. 2003-2008. Utah Rare Plant Guide. Salt Lake City, UT: Utah Rare Plant Guide Home Page. Online. Available: http://www.utahrareplants.org (accessed 2009).

  • Welsh, S.L., N.D. Atwood, S. Goodrich and L.C. Higgins. (Eds.) 2008. A Utah Flora. 4th edition, revised. Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, U.S.A. 1019 pp.

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