by Andrea Williams
I can honestly say that, until yesterday, I had never held an endangered plant in the palm of my hand. I’d spent myriad hours crouched and squinting, counting thousands of tiny rare plants (I know—if they’re rare, why are there so many of them?), their afterimages burned on the inside of my eyelids, but this is the first time I cupped a tangle of fragile roots and new leaves and placed them in fresh-dug earth. These sprouts were the offspring of the last remaining wild population of the endangered Baker’s larkspur (Delphinium bakeri), nurtured by the University of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley, and yesterday reintroduced into the wild at MMWD’s Soulajule Reservoir.
The rocky bank at Soulajule is similar to where the last natural occurrence grows; the scrape of metal against rock was frequent as UC Botanical Garden staff, US Fish and Wildlife Service staff, a California Native Plant Society volunteer and I dug holes for new plant homes. Hopefully this endangered wildflower finds the spot to its liking.