Salt Marsh Bird's Beak [Cordylanthus maritimus Nutt. ssp. maritimus]

Salt Marsh Bird's Beak [Cordylanthus maritimus Nutt. ssp. maritimus]

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

State/Federal. Status -- CE/FE SCROPHULARIACEAE

Global Rank G3T2 State Rank S2.1

Distribution: San Luis Obispo County, south along coast to Baja California, Mexico

Habitat: Salt Marsh habitat, particularly slightly raised hummocks, is the preferred habitat of this small annual. In Imperial Beach the colony grows at the edge of a salt pan among Salicornia virginica. Tidal inundation of this area is occasional. In Newport Beach, a portion of the habitat is apparently shell and sand dredgings.

Known Sites: Only two known sites are definitely extant in San Diego County: a sizeable population of perhaps 100 individuals was seen in the salt marsh at Imperial Beach and a small group of perhaps a dozen plants were found growing in Chula Vista's E Street Marsh. The Imperial Beach population grows in a very precarious location along a commonly used footpath. A subpopulation in the same marsh but substantially further south has been reported. An old herbarium collection from near Boundary Monument #258 at Border Field State Park may no longer be extant. An estimated 2000 plants were flowering along Back Bay Road in Newport, Orange County during early summer 1989. Elsewhere in California populations are reported restricted to salt marsh habitat at Ormund Beach and Mugu Lagoon in Ventura County, Carpenteria Marsh in Santa Barbara County, at Bolsa Chica Bay south of Huntington Harbor, and Morro Bay in San Luis Obispo County. An old site report from Anaheim Bay has not been rediscovered. Data Base records for Orange County show a site at Anaheim Landing 1 mile south of Landing Hill which is 3 miles northwest of Bolsa Chica, at Bolsas Marsh 3.5 miles south of Seal Beach where possibly extirpated; for Ventura County at Silver Stand Beach 1 mile west of Port Hueneme where possibly extirpated, near the Santa Clara River 1.3 miles north of McGrath Lake where possibly extirpated, west of Mugu Lagoon from about 750 feet west of Arnold Road eastward to the runway, at the end of McWane Road near the Oxnard Drain; for Santa Barbara County in the Carpenteria Salt Marsh at the west end of the estuary; for Orange County in Upper Newport Bay near Back Bay Drive and the bridge over Big Canyon Drive; for San Luis Obispo County at the north end of Mitchell Drive and Cuesta-by-the-Sea at the south end of Morro Bay, at the north end of Morro Spit west of Morro Bay, and at the north end of Morro Spit due west of Fairbank Point and southwest of Morro Bay.

This species extends its range south into Baja California. Only five herbarium specimens are found in the San Diego Natural History Museum's herbarium: at Laguna Mormona in the coastal dunes; east of the English cemetery at Bahia San Quentin; a flat near the mouth of San Quentin Bay; Pond B in an arroyo south of Cabo Colnett; and 2 km west of Santa Maria where collected by Moran (SD 105565) at 30 24' North.

Status: Salt Marsh Bird's Beak is approaching extirpation in San Diego County and throughout the remainder of its restricted range. All populations should be protected.

Copyright May 1994 Craig H. Reiser.

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