Kearney's Blue Star - Illustration by Bill Singleton


Kearney's Blue Star

Amsonia kearneyana

Kearney's Blue Star is a perennial herb which grows to about 2.5 feet high and three feet wide.1 Stems are produced from the root with alternating bright green leaves. White flowers form between April and May. The fruits develop June through August, and are dispersed by floodwater.1

The plants grow in coarse soil along a partially shaded dry wash at an elevation of 3,600 to 3,800 feet.2 The wash is lined with desert riparian trees and shrubs, such as Arizona walnut, catclaw acacia, and velvet mesquite.1 Surrounding the wash is Sonoran desert scrub and transitional grassland.2

A. kearneyana is found in a west facing drainage wash in the Baboquivari Mountains. Currently, only one natural population of Kearney's blue star exists in South Canyon. Sycamore Canyon in the Baboquivari Mountains once had a population in the 1940s, but it is no longer found there.1 An introduced population in Brown Canyon was planted in 1988, 1989, and 1992. Potential habitats in the Baboquivari Mountains exist in other west-facing drainage washes.2

This species is listed endangered and has an approved recovery plan. It is protected as a Highly Safeguarded Species by the Native Plant Law. Species in this category may not be removed from their habitat without a permit from the Arizona Department of Agriculture. While the Arizona Native Plant Law does not apply on the Indian Reservation, it does apply to wild collected plants that are transported off the Reservation.2

Kearney's Blue Star in Pima County:
The Kearney's blue star is located on the Baboquivari Mountains on the Tohono O'odam Nation, Pima County, Arizona. Few plants remain in South Canyon. Currently, the population in Brown Canyon has about 40­50 remaining plants with low levels of reproduction. About ten sub-populations of naturally occurring plants have been found on surrounding BLM land.3

The plant is threatened by habitat degradation, damage by flooding, and low reproduction rates.2 The plant's recovery plan outlines the steps taken to ensure the survival of this species, such as introducing the population in Brown Canyon.


1. U.S. Fish and Wildlife. 1993. Kearney's Blue Star Amsonia kearneyana Recovery Plan. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

2. U.S. Fish and Wildlife. 1998. Threatened and Endangered Species of Arizona. Arizona Ecological Service Field Office, Phoenix, AZ. pp 17-18.

3. Falk, Mima. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Personal Communication. July 2001.



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