Coast Wallflower [Erysimum ammophilum Heller]

Coast Wallflower [Erysimum ammophilum Heller]

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

State/Federal. Status -- /C2 BRASSICACEAE Feb.-Jun.

Global Rank G2 State Rank S2

Distribution: San Diego County (?), Santa Rosa Island, Santa Cruz County, and Monterey County

Habitat: Old eroded dunes now well back of the existing beachline, and sandy locales in chaparral openings are utilized by the Coast Wallflower. Corralitos loamy sand is the soil type mapped for the coastal form of wallflowers at Torrey Pines State Park; Olivenhain cobbly loam is marked for Camp Pendleton. The very sandy substrate seems to be a prerequisite for this biennial species.

Known Sites: San Diego County populations may represent the widely ranging and quite variable Erysimum capitatum ssp. capitatum, or an intermediate form between this entity and E. ammophilum (as it occurs in Santa Cruz County and on the coastal islands). A substantial population of wallflower grows on an ancient, raised sand dune at Wire Mountain on Camp Pendleton, and in similar terrain south of Mass 3 Road. Several plants noted growing at Torrey Pines Preserve near a footpath may no longer be extant; however, a healthy population was found east of Torrey Pines Road near the marsh. A vigorous colony is located on the steep north-facing slopes of Carmel Valley just east of Interstate 5. Two plants were seen on a southwest-facing slope just west of I-5 and north of Manchester Road in Encinitas, and several were found in dense chaparral south of Del Mar Heights Road and east of El Camino Real. A substantial population occurs immediately west of I-15 on a knoll overlooking Penasquitos Lagoon. Old reports from near Collier Park and at nearby Sunset Cliffs are likely from colonies no longer extant. An old biological survey report notes a site north of Via de la Valle near Andres Drive. This species is also reported from the north side of Santa Rosa Island. Thomas reports the Coast Wallflower from the sand dunes and sand hills along the coast of southern Santa Cruz County.

Status: The coastal form of wallflower in San Diego County is close to extirpation; it may only survive at the handful of sites listed. All coastal sites should be protected with adequate buffers until convincing taxonomic work is completed on San Diego County plants. The montane soils of typical Erysimum capitatum in San Diego are quite different from the sandstones occupied by the coast populations of wallflowers, with no geographically intermediate populations found in the County. Additional taxonomic work is also recommended in this notoriously variable genus, to further assess the Coast Wallflower as it relates to the Erysimum capitatum complex. The note within the Jepson Manual regarding plants "formerly" in Southern California is considered premature and assumed to be populations herein mentioned, and still present although approaching extirpation.

Copyright May 1994 Craig H. Reiser.

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