Chocolate Lily [Fritillaria biflora Lindl. var. biflora]

Chocolate Lily [Fritillaria biflora Lindl. var. biflora]

Listing Unlisted R-E-D Code - None

State/Federal. Status -- None LILIACEAE Feb.-Jun.

Global Rank None State Rank None

Distribution: San Diego County, Riverside County, Orange County, Los Angeles County, Ventura County, Santa Barbara County, San Luis Obispo County, Fresno County, Mendocino County, Monterey County, Napa County, San Benito County, Santa Clara County, Santa Cruz County, San Mateo County; Baja California, Mexico

Habitat: This showy lily grows in mesic openings in sage scrub, chaparral, and perennial grasslands; sometimes in conjunction with clay substrates. At Otay Mesa it occurs in Olivenhain cobbly loam. Cobbles are often present as surface scatter where this plant grows in Southern California. Small seeps are strongly correlated with its presence.

Known Sites: A small population grows along the truck trail above Minnewawa Campground on Otay Mountain. A large population on the north-facing slopes of Otay Mesa, east of Interstate 805, has been impacted by recent grading. Another small population occurs east of Friendly Drive along the jeep road through the San Marcos Mountains. Chocolate Lily is uncommon north of Magee Road near the Riverside County line in openings in the chaparral; also on the ridgeline at Rancho Cielo southwest of Mount Israel Road in open chaparral. Herbarium specimens from San Diego County were examined for Encanto, Rolando Heights, a mesa near San Ysidro, on Lake Murray Drive halfway to Bostonia, Poway, Upper San Onofre Canyon, McGinty Mountain, Rancho Santa Fe, Santee, Black Mountain Road near Rancho Peñasquitos, Black Canyon on the Otay Ranch, Sweetwater Lake, the north slope of San Miguel Mountain, and the south side of the Otay River. It is reported from Bernardo, Del Mar, Point Loma, Jamul, Bonita, San Diego, and Dehesa. Old biological survey reports note sites across the street from the Old Padre Dam, and northwest of San Marcos' Palomar College. A number of these historical sites may no longer be extant. In Riverside County it grows along Idaleona Road near the southern boundary of Harford Springs Park and near Washington Road in French Valley. Boyd reports it restricted to clay soils in Temescal Canyon and areas of the Gavilan Plateau. Lathrop and Thorne report it in the Santa Rosa Plateau region near the head of Miller Canyon on Mesa de Burro, on the east-facing slope of Miller Mountain near the USFS Tenaja Guard Station, and on the east slope of Mesa de Colorado. Raven reports it as local on clay slopes at scattered locales throughout the Santa Monica Mountains of Los Angeles County. Smith reports this species from the Santa Barbara region to Point Sal, inland in mountainous terrain to potreros in the Sierra Madre Mountains and Lockwood Valley. Hoover reports this species on clay from the coast of San Luis Obispo County inland to near Creston, and utilizing loams at San Simeon. Thomas reports the Chocolate Lily for the Santa Cruz Mountains, and near Hillsborough and San Jose.

Wiggins reports the Chocolate Lily on the western flanks of the Sierra Juarez from Tijuana south to Ensenada; however, only a single voucher collection is found from Baja California (south of Tijuana) at the herbarium of the San Diego Natural History Museum.

Status: Chocolate Lily is severely declining in Southern California, but apparently is more widespread in central California near the coast. Substantial populations in San Diego County, Orange County, and Riverside County should be strongly considered for protection, despite the relative abundance of this species to the north.

Copyright © May 1994 Craig H. Reiser.

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