Orcutt's Spineflower [Chorizanthe orcuttiana Parry]

Orcutt's Spineflower [Chorizanthe orcuttiana Parry]

Listing CNPS List 1B R-E-D Code 3-3-3

State/Federal. Status -- CE/PE POLYGONACEAE Mar.-Apr.

Global Rank G1 State Rank S1.1

Distribution: San Diego County

Habitat: Coastal Chaparral openings in Chamise, with a distinctive loose sandy substrate, is a microhabitat favored by Orcutt's Spineflower. The Oak Crest Park site is mapped with a division of soil types: Corralitos loamy sand, and loamy alluvial land in the Huerhuero complex. Carlsbad gravelly loamy sand or Gaviota fine sandy loam are presumed to be the soil type for the historical Point Loma population. A factor in the rarity of this species may be correlated with the dearth of undisturbed loose sands in appropriate coastal chaparral areas. Most of the historical coastal chaparral is either developed for residential or military uses, or it has been heavily disturbed by foot traffic in the open sandy areas where this tiny annual might grow. The related Mucronea californica may have very similar habitat restrictions, and is now known in San Diego County from only one Point Loma site near an historical location for Orcutt's Spineflower.

Known Sites: Found (not far from an historical site now destroyed) by C. Reiser and K. Ince at Oak Crest Park in Encinitas. Approximately 20 plants were seen on April 17, 1991, in flower and inhabiting a very limited area of five by five feet. Two specimens were collected and deposited in the herbarium at the San Diego Natural History Museum; macrophotographs of the plants in flower were taken. The habitat was a chaparral clearing in loose sand downslope from eroded sandstone bluffs, south of a bike path, north of a grassy lawn, and west of a parking lot. This species had been considered extinct. In spring 1992 the site was revisited and similar conditions and population size were noted. A reported occurrence at Torrey Pines east of the main road and above the salt marsh was not confirmed; both Chorizanthe procumbens and Chorizanthe staticoides were seen at this locale. It cannot be relocated in appropriate terrain at the Del Mar annex to Torrey Pines State Park or near Fort Rosecrans Cemetery on Point Loma. Most potential habitat is currently being considered for urban development within the cities of San Diego, Del Mar, Solana Beach, and Encinitas.

Status: Only one site is known to be extant; Orcutt's Spineflower is very close to extinction. The lone site is endangered by illegal aliens who regularly sleep in the chaparral, and by park visitors who walk randomly through openings in the shrub cover. A small fenced enclosure should be installed by the City of Encinitas to protect this population. Federally Endangered status is strongly recommended for this species. All sites should be stringently protected with adequate buffers.

San Fernando Valley Spineflower [Chorizanthe parryi Wats. var. fernandina (Wats.) Jeps.]

Listing CNPS List 1A Last seen: 1940

State/Federal. Status -- /C2 POLYGONACEAE Apr.-Jun.

Global Rank G3T3? State Rank S3?

Distribution: Formerly found in Los Angeles County and Orange County.

Habitat: Coastal Scrub is the reported habitat for this small annual. The closely related variety parryi grows in alluvial fan scrub and in open sandy locales in open and low growing sage scrub.

Known Sites: One historical collection from Del Mar has been re-identified as Chorizanthe procumbens by Reveal in his recent treatment of this genus (Phytologia, May 1989). Examples of variety parryi seen in Riverside and San Bernardino counties occasionally have straight hooks on involucral spines, as in variety fernandina. Data Base reports note a 1929 herbarium collection from Elizabeth Lake in Los Angeles County, a 1901 report from Chatsworth Park, a herbarium specimen from near the summit of Mount Lowe, in Little Tujunga Wash, Newhall, and the hills near Santa Ana in Orange County. Several of these may be misidentifications; Reveal mentions only the Mount Lowe and Santa Ana sites.

Status: The San Fernando Valley Spineflower is presumed extinct. The sprawling Los Angeles megalopolis may have removed all primary habitat for this spineflower. It is not considered native to San Diego County. Taxonomic work is recommended to re-determine the San Fernando Valley Spineflower is a distinct entity. All populations of Chorizanthe parryi with predominantly straight, involucral teeth should be protected.


Copyright May 1994 Craig H. Reiser.

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