The Lost Sage of Constanza (Salvia praeterita) is an extremely rare sage endemic to Hispaniola. It is known from a single hillside close to the town Constanza in the Cordillera Central only. Last evidence for its existence was a herbarium specimen dating from 18th – 19th August 1975, stored in the Botanical Garden of Santo Domingo.
We have been searching the hills near Constanza, including the locus typicus of this species, since 2013. In autumn 2014 we found a small number of sage plants without flowers. As flowers are necessary for a correct ID, we continued to check the site on a regular base. In August 2015 we finally found flowers and got evidence that we had rediscovered The Lost Sage of Constanza, 40 years after it vanished from the records.
Lost Sage is a creeping plant of about 20 to 30 cm height. The remaining population of about six adult plants is growing on old exposed rocks and is highly endangered. New homes were build, only a few meters uphill from the remaining population in 2015. Their wastewater runoff will inevitably change the remaining growing site. If no appropiate measures are taken, this species might die out in the wild, within the next 2-5 years.
There are however several newly exsposed rocks nearby, that seem to be suitable for Lost Sage. These sites are a rocky slope above a road and another slope above the canal of a hydroelectric power station. These growing sites are much better suited, it seems however that Lost Sage did not yet colonize these sites. Many Salvias just drop their seeds and they do not have specialized structures that improve seed dispersal. They are therefore rather bad in colonizing new growing sites.
We plan to solve this problem by raising plants of Lost Sage from seeds in pots. And we will plant the fully grown plants into the wild, at the better suited sites. This project requires a permanent station up in the mountains at the growing site for about 2 to 3 years. We will rent a place that fits the needs of this project for about 150 Dollar the month. The project will start as soon as Accion salva una especie gets this support.
While the population is extremely small, seedset is excellent. We were able to harvest fresh seeds in 2015. 50 seeds were send to a botanical garden in California for ex situ conservation. We are looking forward to hear about their germination!
In this project we prefer small monthly donations, as this will allow us to set up a permanent station in Constanza and cover the running expenses (rent, water, electricity) of it.
Miquel Angel Abreu Santos is thanked for support in the field.