Get to know an endangered plant – Arizona cliff rose

Arizona cliff rose (Purshia subintegra)

Status: Endangered wherever found


The Arizona cliffrose was listed as endangered in 1984 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Burro Creek population was completely enclosed with a barbed wire fence. That particular population was put under a monitoring system in 1989.


The cliff rose is known only in four populations of a 322 km (200 mi.) wide area in central Arizona. The Arizona cliffrose is only found on white Tertiary limestone lakebed deposits. The Arizona cliff rose is often found in very rocky soils and can be found at various elevations. The cliffrose can also withstand the high temperatures of the Arizona desert, which can reach over 120º Fahrenheit in the summer.


The Arizona cliffrose is vulnerable due to a small, localized habitat and limited populations. Urbanization and mining play a role in the Arizona cliffrose population decrease. Other major threats include road construction, off-road traffic, and wildlife and livestock grazing (primarily cattle). The drought of 2001 and 2002 in this species habitat is a huge threat to its continued survival. A population viability analysis has shown that the species is undergoing a slow but steady decline in both in natural and reintroduced populations. From 1996-2000, the Arboretum at Flagstaff undertook a mitigation project that entailed learning how to cultivate Arizona cliffrose from cuttings of 65 plants that were threatened by the construction of one road. After a year of work, protocols were finally established for the successful cultivation of this species from cuttings. While not fast, (can take from 6 months to 1 year) this knowledge was key to saving the individuals in the population that were slated to be destroyed by a planned road.

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