Cosmos atrosanguineus

Dennis Szeszko
Sat, 22 Sep 2012 13:34:06 PDT
There has been a lot of conjecture and incorrect information repeated on
this discussion group about the conservation status of this taxon; so it is
my hope that this message can help prevent more misinformation from being
disseminated.  This plant is NOT extinct in the wild and has been collected
as recently as 2008 in the northern part of the Mexican state of Guanajuato
near San Luis Potosi.  It was found at an altitude of 2400 meters in
pine-oak forest in a disturbed area along the side of a road.  The person
who collected the specimen (a professional botanist) told me that *Cosmos
atrosanguineus *was fairly common at the new locality and not as rare as
internet information sources would have you believe. The type specimen is
from the neighboring state of Hidalgo, so this species evidently has a
fairly large distribution.

The plant should be in bloom right now in its natural state in case anyone
wants to look for it.  Since this is a public forum, it is impossible for
me to give more precise locality information other than what I already

I am unsure as to the reasons why more clones are not in commerce, but if
the plant is self infertile then there is a strong economic incentive for
the companies cloning the plant and commercializing it to keep it that way.
 I think it's only a matter of time before new genetic material becomes
available to collectors.  However, clarifying the "urban myth" that the
plant is extinct in the wild and that all known genetic material originated
from one clone will undoubtedly take much longer.

In my personal experience, many plants that are extremely rare and declared
to be "extinct" in the wild almost always turn up after careful searching
of the type habitat or similar ecological niches nearby.  I have seen this
happen many times with rare bulbous species and orchids.  It is very
difficult, but certainly not impossible, to completely extirpate a plant
species and any pronouncements of a species' demise are often exaggerated
or premature.

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