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Rare Santa Barbara Jewelflower Found

Posted: Monday, May 1, 2006

By: Karen Readey (Expired article)

Los Olivos, CA -

On April 21, 2006, Midland faculty member Shawn McVicar and students in his Naturalist Studies class, along with Dr. Jeff Goddard, husband of Midland faculty member Lise Goddard and a research biologist at UCSB's Marine Science Institute, spent a morning on Midland's property with botanists from Texas A&M University, looking for the rare Santa Barbara Jewelflower. The botanists had just completed their work on the known populations of the plant in the vicinity of nearby Figueroa Mountain and came to Midland because of its serpentine soil formations, which the plant requires. On the Midland trip, the botanists and Dr. Goddard found several "skeletons" of the Santa Barbara Jewelflower, indicating that last year there were numerous plants in the area. Dr. Goddard returned on May 1st and found the first of many live plants. Subsequent trips to the location have resulted favorably, with the identification of several more skeletons, as well as numerous live plants.

The Santa Barbara Jewelflower is indeed a botanical jewel, and the discovery of an additional, thriving population at Midland is great news from a conservation standpoint. Taking care to minimize our impacts, Midland's population of this plant can also become a valuable educational asset to students of Midland 101, Biology and Naturalist Studies. For an account of the Santa Barbara Jewelflower by Dr. Jeff Goddard and Shawn McVicar, please go to http://www.midland-school.org/jewelflower.pdf.

About the Santa Barbara Jewelflower: The Santa Barbara Jewelflower is a rare herbaceous annual known only from serpentinite outcrops in the vicinity of Figueroa Mountain in Santa Barbara County. A member of the mustard family, it is considered one of the rarest annual plants in North America. A population has been known for some time from the University of California’s Sedgwick Reserve, adjacent to Midland, but until this spring, its presence at Midland had only been suspected.

About Midland School: Founded in 1932, Midland School is a coeducational, college preparatory boarding school for grades 9-12. It is located in the Santa Ynez Valley on a 2,860-acre working ranch. The school combines rigorous academics with intensive immersion in the environment, and maintains a philosophical commitment to authentic student leadership, simplicity, self-reliance and environmental stewardship. Midland currently enrolls 75 students and employs 18 teachers, all of whom live on campus. For more information about Midland School, please see www.midlandschool.org.

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