Scientists hope for comeback of rare plant burned in Santa Monica fires

This undated photo provided by the National Park Service showing the succulent plant Dudleya Verityi growing in the lichen in the Santa Monica Mountains. As plants slowly grow back at the site of this year's Springs Fire, scientists are hoping against hope that the rare succulent found only in the Santa Monica Mountains will be among the blooms. AP Photo/National Park Service, Tarja Sagar

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. As plants slowly grow back at the site of this year's Springs Fire, scientists are hoping against hope that a rare succulent found only in the Santa Monica Mountains will be among the blooms.

Thousands of Verity's liveforever, a threatened species, could be found in just eight spots in the mountains, all in the footprint of the May wildfire, the Ventura County Star reported.

In assessments so far, researchers have been able to locate just 10 plants that looked untouched by flames. But those plants were dried out, and it's unclear whether they are dead or will come back after some rain.

"We're very concerned," said Stephen McCabe, the research director at the University of California, Santa Cruz Arboretum who has studied liveforever species since the 1980s. "But we're not sure until we see what will happen in the winter ... and how much recovery will happen."

Found on rock faces in areas blanketed with heavy marine fog, the plants often are sunken into beds of lichens - another complication for the recovery because the lichen also burned, according to the newspaper.

The fire occurred during the plant's growth season and likely before it spread seeds, researchers said.

The fire in May charred 38 square miles of brush along coastal Ventura County

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