Cuyamaca Larkspur (Delphinium hesperium Gray ssp. cuyamacae (Abrams) Lewis & Epling]

Cuyamaca Larkspur (Delphinium hesperium Gray ssp. cuyamacae (Abrams) Lewis & Epling]

Listing CNPS List 1B R-E-D Code 2-2-3

State/Federal. Status CR/C2 RANUNCULACEAE Jun.-Jul.

Global Rank G4T2 State Rank S2.1

Distribution: San Diego County, Riverside County

Habitat: Relatively densely vegetated Montane Meadow with a dominant presence of Muhlenbergia rigens is the habitat utilized by the Cuyamaca Larkspur south of Cuyamaca Lake. This locale is considerably more mesic than the habitat typically occupied by any other larkspurs in the region. The soils here are mapped as Holland stony fine sandy loam.

Known Sites: A dozen plants were found growing in a meadow near Stonewall Jackson Mine at Cuyamaca Lake. The site is endangered by excessive recreational use of meadows south of Cuyamaca Lake (e.g., horsemen and hikers). It is extremely rare in the mountains of San Diego County with additional old reports from Pine Hills, northeast of Cuyamaca Dam, the Garnet Kiosk locale in the Laguna Mountain Recreation Area, and upper French Valley in the Palomar Mountains. Some small reported sites such as 0.5 mile east of Julian High School or near Woodland Drive and Sunset Drive at Kentwood-in-the-Pines are unlikely to retain habitat values due to residential encroachment and may already be extirpated. Data Base reports are from a relatively restricted area including Cuyamaca Dam on the northwestern shore of the reservoir, on the western slope of Cuyamaca Peak at the headwaters of King Creek, northwest of Cuyamaca Reservoir 0.5 mile west northwest of the gaging station and south of Engineers Road, southwest of Cuyamaca Reservoir at La Puerta Springs, 0.5 mile north of Paso Picacho Campground and west of Highway 79, north of Little Stonewall Peak, Arroyo Seco north of Pine Ridge in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, about 0.5 mile south of the primitive camp north of Pine Ridge, on the south and north side of this primitive camp, in Green Valley south of Cuyamaca Reservoir, south of East Mesa and south of the Cuyamaca Reservoir, on the west side of East Mesa near the Dyar Spring Fire Road, along the East Mesa Fire Road, the upper drainage channel of Pine Valley Creek east of East Mesa, and 0.25 mile west southwest of Granite Spring in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park. An old biological survey report notes this plant near Woodland Drive in Kentwood-in-the-Pines. This species is also reported from the San Jacinto Mountains of Riverside County.

Status: Cuyamaca Larkspur is approaching extirpation in San Diego County. The permanent removal of cattle grazing at Cuyamaca Lake would positively impact potential habitat for this species. Status in Riverside County is not known. All San Diego County populations should be protected.

Copyright May 1994 Craig H. Reiser.

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