Interspecific hybridization has increasingly become regarded as a serious threat to the genetic integrity and persistence of rare plants. Oenothera glazioviana (Onagraceae) is a horticultural species that has escaped cultivation and now threatens the narrow Pacific coastal endemic O. wolfii with hybridization. Reports of morphologically intermediate and ecologically aggressive forms prompted this investigation into the extent of hybridization over the range of O. wolfii. In particular, this study identifies populations of pure and hybrid origins. We used multivariate methods to characterize the morphological variation of Oregon and northern California coastal Oenothera populations. Putatively pure O. wolfii and O. glazioviana individuals do not overlap in many floral characteristics. We found morphologies ranging between the 2 species in northern California populations, however, supporting the inference of hybridization. Remote O. wolfii populations in Oregon were smaller in almost all characters, and discriminant analysis was able to distinguish the rare species from both hybrids and O. glazioviana. However, 5 of 10 O. wolfii populations overlapped significantly with hybrid populations for individual traits and composite morphology, and trait values outside the range of O. wolfii were discovered in 2 populations previously considered to be pure. We also discuss the morphological evidence in light of these species' chromosomal complexes and environmental factors.
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Vol. 68 • No. 2