California plant rescue: The race to save precious wild seeds and sprouts
On a dirt road on a cool autumn morning, deep in the rugged backcountry of San Benito County, Alex Hubner bounces over boulders in his Toyota Tacoma truck, eyeing each passing plant like a bounty hunter seeking prey. He stops suddenly beside a lonely gray-green lump, its roots gripping the inhospitable serpentine soil like skeletal fingers. Crouching over the plant, Hubner takes a closer look. It’s a rare variety of sulfur buckwheat — past its prime, seeds scattered. … Based at UC Santa Cruz, Hubner and his wife, Lucy Ferneyhough, are collectors for California Plant Rescue, a state-funded consortium of botanical institutions that aims to find and conserve the botanical diversity of the Golden State … to store seeds and sprouts, each a modern-day Noah’s ark that could help protect against the permanent loss of rich, unique and irreplaceable lives.