Dr. Dennis Breedlove, then curator of botany at the California
Academy of Sciences, first discovered Deppea splendens in 1972
in a canyon on Cerro Mozotal, a mountain in Chiapas. The clusters
of yellow-orange flowers are quite attractive, dangling from the
ends of incredibly thin and wiry peduncles, and set off by claret
calyces. Seed was collected only once in 1981, and when Dr. Breedlove
returned in 1986, he found that the area had been cleared by local
corn farmers, leaving only small remnant pockets of original vegetation.
No individuals of D. splendens were found.
The species has never been discovered in any other location, and
is now presumed extinct in the wild. All extant germplasm is held
in a few botanical gardens, mostly in the western U.S. In the 1990's,
Botanical Garden and Rancho
Santa Ana Botanical Garden began to track down how many seedlings
clones still exist of the orginial seed batch from Dr. Breedlove.
So far, nine individuals have been found, representing the entire
known germplasm of this species.