Nuttall's Lotus [Lotus nuttallianus Greene]

Nuttall's Lotus [Lotus nuttallianus Greene]

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

State/Federal. Status -- /C2 FABACEAE Mar.-Jun.

Global Rank G1 State Rank S1.1

Distribution: San Diego County; Baja California, Mexico

Habitat: Coastal Dunes, particularly well protected back dunes with minimal human foot traffic, are the preferred habitat of Nuttall's Lotus. Soils are mapped as beach sands and riverwash. Sometimes growing sympatrically with this prostrate biennial is Nemacaulis denudata var. denudata.

Known Sites: Only a few U.S. populations are confirmed extant. At Border Field it is uncommon in the back dunes behind the beach. A minuscule population occurs on a solitary dune at Torrey Pines State Park near the salt marsh. It was found growing on disturbed sandy soils near the mouth of the San Luis Rey River at an unprotected locale. A small colony occurs southwest of Emory Cove, west of the highway, on the Silver Strand. A good site is straddling the Least Tern Colony just north of the Santa Margarita River. Half of the population is outside the fenced, tern breeding grounds and is potentially endangered. One recent report is of a very large population north of Crown Cove on San Diego Bay. Old collections are from Ocean Beach, Pacific Beach, North Island, and Encinitas; they likely represent extirpated sites. Data Base reports are from the U.S. Naval Radio Receiving Facility at Imperial Beach, in a narrow strip south of Sea World Drive in Mission Bay, old sites somewhere along the beaches at both Encinitas and Del Mar (possibly extirpated), at the south end of Cardiff State Beach, and at South Carlsbad State Beach just south of the mouth of Batiquitos Lagoon and west of Highway S-21.

Fourteen specimens are found from Baja California at the San Diego Natural History Museum's herbarium; south to 30 2' North where collected on dunes of Bocano el Rosario by Moran (SD 106029).

Status: Nuttall's Lotus is close to extirpation in the United States. It is a strong candidate for Federal Endangered status. Recreational use of beaches has increased dramatically in the last twenty years and long-term outlook for this species is bleak. The Crown Cove population is recently proposed for the expansion of a picnic area. Impacts on northern Baja beaches can be expected to follow a similar pattern over the next few decades. All populations should be protected.

Copyright May 1994 Craig H. Reiser.

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