by Andrea Williams
The last remaining wild population of the endangered Baker’s larkspur (Delphinium bakeri) clings to life on a steep, rocky bank in West Marin. Its roots find purchase in tiny cracks, and surrounding vegetation both competes with it for resources and shields it from gusts blown by passing vehicles. Baker’s larkspur lives on the edge, physically and philosophically, as the population has declined since a 2004 wildfire, flood, and road maintenance decimated the plant and its habitat. But concerned individuals and agencies have stepped in to pull it back from the brink; the UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley and the US Fish and Wildlife Service brought seeds into cultivation and are now reintroducing the plant into the wild where it belongs.
The Marin Municipal Water District’s Soulajule Reservoir lies within Baker’s larkspur’s historic range and contains sites similar to where the plant grows naturally. Next month, the district will provide a home there for plants raised from seeds of that last wild population. Volunteers, Botanical Garden staff, and public agency personnel will plant Baker’s larkspur individuals—at this time of year just bundles of roots—at a specially chosen spot where it should flourish. Funding from the Partners for Fish and Wildlife program will help the district give new life to this endangered wildflower in the new year.