Wenatchee Mountains Checker-mallow

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Wenatchee Mountains Checker-mallow

Sidalcea oregana var. calva

ListedDecember 22, 1999
FamilyMalvaceae (Mallow)
DescriptionA perennial, herbaceous wildflower.
HabitatWet meadows, conifer forest, shrubland.
ThreatsHabitat destruction through conversion into residential, commercial and agricultural land-uses, as well as disturbance by off-road vehicles, and damage caused by alien plants.


The Wenatchee Mountains checker-mallow is a herbaceous, perennial wildflower. It grows about 8-59 in (20-150 cm) tall, from a stout taproot. The leaves are arranged in alternate fashion on the stems. The leaves are thick and fleshy, hairless or nearly so, and palmately lobed. The flowers have a 5-parted calyx, and 5 petals 0.4-0.8 in (1-2 cm) long and colored lavender to deep pink. The stamens are fused at the base to form a tube around the style, as is typical of the family Malvaceae. The flowers are either exclusively female, or contain both male and female organs.


The Wenatchee Mountains checker-mallow is most abundant in wet meadows that have surface water or saturated upper soil profiles during the spring and early summer. However, it also occurs in open conifer stands dominated by ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa ) and Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii ), and on the margins of shrubby and hardwood thickets. It occurs at elevations ranging from 1,970 to 3,300 ft (600-1,000 m). Its soils are typically clay-loam or silty-loam with low moisture permeability.


The Wenatchee Mountains checker-mallow is a locally evolved (or endemic) variety that only occurs in the Wenatchee Mountains of Chelan County, in central Washington.


Much of the original habitat of the Wenatchee Mountains checker-mallow has been lost through conversion to urbanized, rural-residential, commercial, and agricultural land-uses. The rare checker-mallow is still affected by these forces, as well as by trampling by off-road vehicles, and habitat damage caused by invasive non-native plants. It is an attractive plant, and is also threatened by collection for gardens and the commercial horticultural trade. These factors have reduced the rare plant to only five populations. The largest population is located in an area called Camas Land, a complex of wet-lands and moist meadows surrounded by conifer forest. The area is a mixture of private land, State of Washington land managed as the Camas Land Natural Area Preserve by the Washington Department of Natural Resources, and land administered by the Wenatchee National Forest of the U. S. Forest Service. A survey in the late 1990s found about 2,470 individuals of the rare plant on 90 acres (36 hectares) of state-owned property in Camas Land. This is thought to represent about 75% of the Camas Land population. The second largest population is on private land at Mountain Home Meadow, and consists of about 100 plants within an area of a few hectares. Two other populations in the Wenatchee National Forest have a total of only seven plants. The fifth population, on private land, has fewer than 30 plants. The total number of plants in these five populations is fewer than 3,300, occurring on a total area of about 125 acres (50 hectares).

Conservation and Recovery

Measures to protect the largest population of the Wenatchee Mountains checker-mallow and its habitat must be entered into the management plan for the Camas Land Natural Area Preserve. Its habitat in the Wenatchee National Forest should be protected from forestry and other disturbances. Other habitat on private land should be conserved by acquiring it and establishing ecological reserves, or by negotiating conservation easements. The populations of the rare plant should be monitored, and research undertaken into its basic biology and habitat needs.


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

U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Western Washington Office, North Pacific Coast Ecoregion
510 Desmond Drive, Suite 102
Lacey, Washington 98503-1291
Telephone: (360) 753-9440
Fax: (360) 753-9008


U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 22 December 1999. "Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants: Determination of Endangered Status for Sidalcea oregana var. calva (Wenatchee Mountains Checker-Mallow)." Federal Register 64 (245): 71680-71687.