Ash Meadows Sunray

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Ash Meadows Sunray

Enceliopsis nudicaulis var. corrugata

ListedMay 20, 1985
FamilyCompositae (Asteraceae)
DescriptionPerennial herb growing in clumps; radial flower with a yellow disk.
HabitatAsh Meadows; dry washes and rocky outcrops.
ThreatsAgriculture, livestock grazing, groundwater diversion.


Ash Meadows sunray, Enceliopsis nudicaulis var. corrugata, is a perennial herb that grows in clumps of long, wiry stems, up to 16 in (40 cm) high. Deeply serrated leaves are gathered close to the ground around the base of the plant. Flower heads are borne singly on the leafless stalks. The flowers are radial with yellow corollas; the disk is about 1.2 in (3 cm) across.


This species is found in dry washes on whitish saline soil associated with outcrops of pale, hard limestone in the Ash Meadows region of Nevada.


First described from material collected from Ash Meadows by A. Cronquist in 1966, this species is found in at least nine localities in Nye County: adjacent to the Death Valley National Monument, near Longstreet and Jack Rabbit Springs, and elsewhere. At the end of the twentieth century, there were no current population figures, although, as of 1990, the flower was believed to be the most abundant and widespread of all plant species endemic to Ash Meadows. Designated critical habitat for this plant consists of about 1,700 acres (690 hectares) in Nye County. The Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge includes about 40% of the critical habitat of this species. Another 40% is located on U. S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land, and about 20% is privately owned.


Because it is restricted to a specific soil type that occurs in scattered outcroppings, Ash Meadows sunray is particularly vulnerable, despite its relative abundance. From the mid-1970s to the late 1990s, several populations were eliminated and others reduced in range by a variety of causes, including trampling by wild horses, road construction and off-road vehicle traffic. Much of the land has been farmed at one time or another, and 2,000 acres (810 hectares), containing several populations of sunray, were under cultivation until leases expired in 1984. Livestock grazing on BLM lands has had a detrimental impact on plants growing there. Diversion of water from the area and pumping of groundwater also remain problems.

Conservation and Recovery

In 1977, a real estate development corporation purchased some 23 sq mi (60 sq km) of Ash Meadows for a planned resort community. The developer eventually abandoned the project, and the Nature Conservancy bought the property to serve as the core for the Ash Meadows Preserve. The U. S. Congress subsequently appropriated funds to reimburse the Nature Conservancy and to incorporate the lands into the National Wildlife Refuge System. Establishment of the Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge ensures protection for a large portion of the sunray's habitat. The BLM will consult with the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service under provisions of the Endangered Species Act to devise a management plan for populations that grow on their lands. The management plan will probably recommend curtailing livestock grazing in the immediate vicinity of sunray populations.


U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Regional Office, Division of Endangered Species
Eastside Federal Complex
911 N. E. 11th Ave.
Portland, Oregon 97232-4181
Telephone: (503) 231-6121


Cronquist, A. 1972. "A New Variety of Enceliopsis nudicaulis (Asteraceae) from Southern Nevada." Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 99: 246-248.

Mozingo, H. N., and M. Williams. 1980. "Threatened and Endangered Plants of Nevada." U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Portland, Oregon, and U. S. Bureau of Land Management, Reno, Nevada.