The presence of a sand verbena on the Yellowstone Plateau is surprising because of the high elevation (approximately 7,740 feet, or 2,360 meters) and long, cold winters. Yellowstone sand verbena is a member of a New World plant family that typically lives in warmer climates such as deserts and tropical areas. The genus Abronia includes about 30 species that primarily occur in warmer areas of the western United States and Mexico. Some botanists speculate that the thermal activity in Yellowstone has made it possible for a sand verbena to survive the harsh winters here and slowly evolve into a species that is adapted to this climate.
In recent surveys, botanists have located four populations of Yellowstone sand verbena, but very little is known about its life history and biology. For example, the plant is represented as an annual in the scientific literature, although it is actually a perennial that overwinters underground as a large root system. No one currently knows how the plant is pollinated, how the seeds are transported, or how long the seeds survive.
|This Caryophyllales article is a stub. You can help Wikipedia by expanding it.|