San Diego Sunflower [Hulsea californica T. & G. ex Gray]

San Diego Sunflower [Hulsea californica T. & G. ex Gray]

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

State/Federal. Status -- /C3c ASTERACEAE Apr.-Jun.

Global Rank G2G3 State Rank S?

Distribution: San Diego County

Habitat: Montane Coniferous Forest and lightly disturbed chaparral are preferred by San Diego Sunflower. This species is definitely a fire follower, and may occur in some numbers following fires at the upper elevations of the Laguna Mountains; otherwise it usually is found in small colonies or singly in mildly disturbed locales, or even beneath pine canopy. Mottsville loamy coarse sand is mapped for the disturbed locale in Pine Valley.

Known Sites: This plant is rare and scattered in small colonies throughout the Laguna Mountains such as at Pine Valley, along Sunrise Highway, and near Garnet Peak. No large permanent concentrations of H. californica are known. It is quite conspicuous and not likely to be missed when in flower. Reports from the Palomar area may be referable to Hulsea heterochroma. Old reports from the Laguna and Cuyamaca Mountains include Chariot Canyon, Stonewall Peak, Cherry Flat, and Japacha Peak; as well as southeast to Campo. Herbarium specimens in the San Diego Natural History Museum include collections from 1 mile east of Green Valley Falls, Hot Springs Mountain near Eagle's Nest, Espinosa Trail near Pine Creek, Harper Ranch, Glencliff Campground, southeast of Buckman Springs, Cottonwood Valley, Airplane Ridge, Desert View, Fred Canyon, and at Inspiration Point. An old biological survey report notes this species 1 mile south of Julian High School.

Status: San Diego Sunflower populations are presumed stable. Additional recreational use in the Laguna Mountains will inexorably cause a decline in the population as peripheral coniferous forest habitat, preferred by the species, is further degraded by recreational human activities. In addition, stringent fire suppression in the mountains may adversely affect this species, which may rely on natural fire cycles. Habitat for substantial populations noted following fires should be protected, regardless of whether or not plants are observed in following years as the vegetation matures. In effect, a seed bank should be presumed to still be present for this fire follower.


Copyright May 1994 Craig H. Reiser.

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