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Swallenia
Swallenia alexandrae.jpeg
Conservation status

Critically Imperiled (NatureServe)
Scientific classification
Genus:
Swallenia
Species:
alexandrae
Synonyms
  • Ectosperma Swallen 1950, illegitimate homonym not Vaucher 1803 (syn of Vaucheria, an alga in Xanthophyceae)
  • Ectosperma alexandrae Swallen

Swallenia is a rare genus of plants in the grass family, found only in Death Valley National Park, California.

The only known species is Swallenia alexandrae, known by the common names Eureka dunegrass and Eureka Valley dune grass. This genus was named for American botanist Jason Richard Swallen (1903-1991). The species was named for American philanthropist and paleontological collector Annie Montague Alexander.

Description

This is a rare plant endemic to Inyo County, California, where it is found on a single isolated dune system, the Eureka Valley Sand Dunes in the Eureka Valley of the Mojave Desert, within Death Valley National Park.

Description

Swallenia alexandrae is a coarse, tufted perennial grass which grows in sand from thick rhizomes. Its stiffly erect clums, sharp-leafed grass, and erect pale-colored panicle inflorescences are diagnostic.

Endangered status

This is a federally listed threatened species of the United States. The main threat to the species survival has been off-roading, which is no longer permitted in its habitat. Trespassing off-roaders and campers are still a threat to the five remaining occurrences.

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