A plant in Balboa Park now extinct in the wild.

Balboa Park's knowledgeable Ranger Kim Duclo points out an extremely rare specimen of Deppea splendens in the Botanical Building.
Balboa Park’s knowledgeable Ranger Kim Duclo points out an extremely rare specimen of Deppea splendens in the Botanical Building.

I learned something really amazing last Sunday in Balboa Park. I had joined one of Ranger Kim Duclo’s park tours as it was in progress, and I followed the group into the Botanical Building.

Near the center of the Botanical Building, Ranger Kim stopped beside a beautiful green tree and told us it was one of the rarest plants in the entire world!

Deppea splendens was originally discovered in 1973 by botanist Dennis Breedlove. He found it growing in a single spot in Mexico’s southern mountains. Fortunately Dennis gathered some seeds. Because when he returned in 1986, the plants had all been destroyed. The area had been developed into farmland.

Ranger Kim told us that specimens of Deppea splendens now grow in relatively few places–mostly in special havens like Balboa Park. He also said that one day the plant might be reintroduced into the wild, much as the California condor was saved locally from extinction and successfully returned to its natural habitat.

May that day come!

A look at the thriving Deppea splendens inside Balboa Park's lush Botanical Building.
Photo of a thriving Deppea splendens inside Balboa Park’s lush Botanical Building.
The distinctive flowers of Deppea splendens, a plant that is now extinct in the wild. This public domain photograph is from Wikimedia Commons.
The distinctive flowers of Deppea splendens, a plant that is now extinct in the wild. I found this public domain photograph at Wikimedia Commons.
These beautiful green leaves might be reintroduced into the wild one day!
These rare, beautiful leaves might be seen once again in the wild!

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Richard Schulte

Downtown San Diego has been my home for many years. My online activities reflect my love for writing, blogging, walking and photography.

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