Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Banner year for Tumamoc Globeberry

Photo by Mark Hengesbaugh 9/20/2016

Text by Mark Hengesbaugh

Biologist Frank Reichenbacher points to Tumamoc Globeberry (Tumamoca macdougalii), an uncommon vine in the melon and gourd family, growing on the east side of Sabino Creek. Reichenbacher, a volunteer, is the leading expert on this root perennial that in 1986 was only known to grow in a few refuges, including Sabino Canyon, the Painted Hills, and Tumamoc Hill, and so was listed as an Endangered Species. During decades of scouting, Reichenbacher discovered additional populations in southern Arizona and Sonora, Mexico; in 1993 Tumamoc Globeberry was delisted. Today, it is a species of conservation concern in the county’s Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan.

Tumamoc Globeberry reproduces very slowly, said Reichenbacher. Typically he'll find only a few seedlings in a decade - always in proximity to a mature plant. This leads him to wonder if the seed-bearing fruits are not dispersed by wildlife. Nevertheless, "In Sabino Canyon, they're undergoing a mini-boom. I found 20 new seedlings last year."

Anne says: Fred and Ned also took photos of this great plant.

Photo by Fred Heath 9/12/2016

Photo by Fred Heath 9/12/2016

Photo by Ned Harris 9/14/2016

Photo by Ned Harris, hand by Alexa von Bieberstein 9/14/2016

Thanks to everyone who contributed to this story! Especially to Frank Reichenbacher for clarifying the latest science.

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