Red Sand-Verbena [Abronia maritima Nutt. ex Wats.]

Red Sand-Verbena [Abronia maritima Nutt. ex Wats.]

Listing CNPS List 4 R-E-D Code 1-2-2

State/Federal. Status -- None NYCTAGINACEAE Feb.-Nov.

Global Rank G3? State Rank S3?

Distribution: San Diego County, Orange County, Los Angeles County, Santa Catalina Island, San Clemente Island, San Nicolas Island, Santa Cruz Island, Anacapa Island, San Miguel Island, Ventura County, Santa Barbara County, San Luis Obispo County; Baja California

Habitat: This fleshy herbaceous perennial grows in prostrate mats on well developed beach dunes. It occurs optimally on semi-stabilized dunes away from the heavy foot traffic of humans which characterizes most of the Southern California beaches.

Known Sites: In San Diego County this plant still occurs in some numbers on the hummocky back dunes north of the Tijuana River where a preservation plan is helping to expand its numbers. It also is found well distributed in protected locales along the Silver Strand, at Border Field State Park, near the mouth of the San Dieguito Lagoon, and near the mouth of the Santa Margarita River. This species is now quite uncommon along the beaches of Camp Pendleton, such as near Las Flores. Herbarium specimens examined from San Diego County are from Solana Beach, San Onofre Bluffs, Agua Hedionda Lagoon, Ocean Beach, and Coronado. Old reports are from Cardiff, Torrey Pines Beach, Mission Beach, and a site north of Via de la Valle and west of El Camino Real. Also noted in the herbarium are specimens from four of the Channel Islands; El Segundo in Los Angeles County; Hueneme in Ventura County; 14 miles north of Santa Barbara, Guadalupe, and Surf in Santa Barbara County; and Oceano and Morro Bay in San Luis Obispo County. Roberts reports this species for coastal Orange County. Raven reports this species for Los Angeles County along the coast of the Santa Monica Mountains as occurring in local colonies from Point Dume west. Smith reports this verbena in the Santa Barbara area as commonly scattered on the upper beaches and ocean dunes as well as on all four of the Channel Islands. Hoover reports this plant in San Luis Obispo County from Piedras Blancas Point where possibly of hybrid origin, and abundant from just north of Morro Bay southward (Oso Flaco is also a reported site).

Collected south in Baja California to 24 9' North on the southwestern corner of Cerralvo Island by Moran (SD 66497). There are 36 specimens deposited in the San Diego Natural History Museum's herbarium from Baja California; as well as three from Sonora, Mexico. Many of the specimens are from islands in the Gulf of California such as San Martin, Natividad, Isla Salsipuedes, Magdalena, Isla San Jose, Catalina, San Francisco, and Tiburon.

Status: Red Sand-verbena is substantially declining in coastal Southern California. This beach dwelling species has been severely impacted by the millions of beachgoers who pursue recreational activities along the California beaches. It is generally only stabilized in protected locales which are closed or have constraints on public access. It is regularly re-introduced into appropriate habitat which has been fenced; it is an appropriate species for re-introduction at many beach locales in Southern California with appropriate, defensive design precautions. Munz notes that this deep re-purple flowering species hybridizes with both the pink Abronia umbellata and the yellow-petaled Abronia latifolia. All substantial colonies of this species should be protected; efforts should also be made to protect small, isolated plant populations along the beaches and the genetic variability they may provide.


Copyright May 1994 Craig H. Reiser.

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