Abronia ammophila
Abronia ammophila.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Nyctaginaceae
Genus: Abronia
A. ammophila
Binomial name
Abronia ammophila

Abronia ammophila, the Yellowstone sand verbena, or Wyoming sand verbena, is a plant unique to Yellowstone National Park lakeshores and is endemic to the park.[1] Part of the "Four o'clock" family (Nyctaginaceae), the abronia ammophila is best suited in sandy soils and lake shores.[2]

The presence of a sand verbena on the Yellowstone Plateau is surprising because of the high elevation (approximately 7,740 feet, or 2,360 meters) and long, cold winters. Yellowstone sand verbena is a member of a New World plant family that typically lives in warmer climates such as deserts and tropical areas. The genus Abronia includes about 30 species that primarily occur in warmer areas of the western United States and Mexico. Some botanists speculate that the thermal activity in Yellowstone has made it possible for a sand verbena to survive the harsh winters here and slowly evolve into a species that is adapted to this climate.

In recent surveys, botanists have located four populations of Yellowstone sand verbena, but very little is known about its life history and biology. For example, the plant is represented as an annual in the scientific literature, although it is actually a perennial that overwinters underground as a large root system. No one currently knows how the plant is pollinated (though it is believed they are pollinated by insects),[3] how the seeds are transported, or how long the seeds survive.


This species was more widely distributed around the lake.[4] Due to trampling by foot traffic and habitat degradation, the population of the species within the park decreased 56% between 1998 and 2010.[5]


A herb with prostrate stems up to 4 dm long, which are sticky and hairy. Head-like clusters of whitish, tubular flowers surrounded by 5 oval bracts bloom in July and August.[5]


  1. ^ Saunders, N. Elizabeth; Sipes, Sedonia D. (August 2006). "Reproductive biology and pollination ecology of the rare Yellowstone Park endemic Abronia ammophila (Nyctaginaceae)". Plant Species Biology. 21 (2): 75–84. doi:10.1111/j.1442-1984.2006.00153.x. ISSN 0913-557X.
  2. ^ "Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin". www.wildflower.org. Retrieved 2021-08-18.
  3. ^ Whipple, Jennifer. "Yellowstone Sand Verbana (Abronia ammophila): A Yellowstone Lake Endemic" (PDF). George Wright Society. Retrieved 29 August 2021.
  4. ^ Whipple, Jennifer J. "Yellowstone Sand Verbena (Abronia ammophila): A Yellowstone Lake Endemic". 6th Biennial Scientific Conference: 256.
  5. ^ a b "Abronia ammophila - Greene". 2018.

External links

  • Yellowstone National Park
  • Saunders, E., & Sipes S. (2006). Reproductive biology and pollination ecology of the rare Yellowstone Park endemic Abronia ammophilia. doi: 10.1111/j.1442-1984.2006.00153.x