Otay Mountain Lotus [Lotus crassifolius (Benth.) Greene var. otayensis Moran]

Otay Mountain Lotus [Lotus crassifolius (Benth.) Greene var. otayensis Moran]

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

State/Federal. Status -- /C2 FABACEAE May-Aug.

Global Rank G5T1 State Rank S1.1

Distribution: San Diego County

Habitat: Chaparral, dominated by Chamise and Ceanothus species, is found throughout the habitat of this lotus on Otay Mountain. Soils here are mapped as San Miguel-Exchequer rocky silt loams. Mild soil disturbance may enable this plant to pioneer on road cuts, and possibly on burns.

Known Sites: This herbaceous perennial is very rare at upper elevations on Otay Mountain, such as east of Doghouse Junction. A Data Base report is nearby along Minnewawa Truck Trail 1 mile north of Doghouse Junction.

This shrub was initially discovered in Baja California in spring 1994 by D. Hannon and C. Reiser, upslope and west of the dirt road to La Zorra, approximately nine miles north of the Guadalupe Valley turnoff. A vernal pool is situated on the east side of the road. It was locally common on one south-facing hillside of chamise chaparral in an area which had recently burned. Arctostaphylos otayensis was also present at this site.

Status: Otay Mountain Lotus is presently stable on its well protected mountain peak, however, it is potentially impacted by ORV use as this plant shows some preference for the narrow road cuts on the lone, unimproved road crossing the mountain from east to west. BLM proposals for the area have included an upgrading of this road. The flowers and leaves are quite distinct from typical Lotus crassifolius var. crassifolius - this entity may warrant species status. Unless more outlying populations are discovered, this large lotus should be considered endangered, despite its protected locale. It is one of the rarest species in San Diego County. A Federal Endangered status is recommended; all populations should be fully protected with appropriate buffers.

Copyright May 1994 Craig H. Reiser.

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