Fish's Milkwort [Polygala cornuta Kell. var. fishiae (Parry) Jepson]

Fish's Milkwort [Polygala cornuta Kell. var. fishiae (Parry) Jepson]

Listing CNPS List 4 R-E-D Code 1-1-2

State/Federal. Status -- None POLYGALACEAE May-Aug.

Global Rank G5T4? State Rank S3?

Distribution: San Diego County, Orange County, Los Angeles County, Riverside County, and Ventura County; Baja California, Mexico

Habitat: Chaparral and Cismontane Woodland with Coast Live Oaks are utilized by this inconspicuous shrub. Curiously, Fish's Milkwort occurs in very xeric, open locales such as on McGinty Mountain (mapped as Las Posas fine sandy loam) and in the Santa Margarita Mountains (Blasingame stony loam) with Chamise Chaparral; conversely it sometimes occurs on mesic, north-facing slopes such as west of Fallbrook (Cieneba very rocky coarse sandy loam) where it grows beneath a tall tree canopy in heavy shade. Genetic variability may account for these very different habitat preferences.

Known Sites: This shrub occurs on slopes above the Santa Margarita River near Fallbrook and in "Devil's Gorge" near the confluence of Devil Creek and San Mateo Creek. It was also seen on a ridge in Delta Sector of the Santa Margarita Mountains. All three of these sites are found on Camp Pendleton. Another population occurs near McGinty Peak. It is uncommon at the summit of Sequan Peak. A small population is in Fallbrook near Mil Soppresas Drive adjacent to oak riparian habitat in deep shade; another colony occurs in Moosa Canyon east of the large waterfall, 0.5 mile downstream of Turner Reservoir. A small population was found near Ricks Ranch Road east of Keys Canyon beneath oak riparian woodland. Old reports are from Pamo Valley, Viejas Mountain, Otay Mountain, Castro Canyon, Poser Mountain, and Barona. Old biological survey reports notes sites north of Chief Mountain near Magee Creek, and 0.7 mile northeast of the junction of Archie Moore Road and Highway 67. Reported by Roberts for Orange County at Temple Hill in Laguna Beach, and at four locales in the Santa Ana Mountains: Lost Woman Canyon, Upper Hot Springs Canyon, Blue Jay Campground, and San Juan Canyon. It is occasional in Silverado Canyon east of the town near the Maple Springs Road. Reported by Raven for Triunfo Canyon, Topanga Canyon, Cold Creek Canyon, Tapia Creek, and Crater Camp in the Santa Monica Mountains. An old biological survey report notes a site north of Tenaja Road near the crest north of Mesa de Burro on the Santa Rosa Plateau of Riverside County.

Six specimens are recorded at the San Diego Natural History Museum's herbarium for Baja California; south to 31 37' South where collected by Moran (SD 97833) on the north slope of Cañada Maxaminos.

Status: Fish's Milkwort populations are presumed to be relatively stable at present. This nondescript shrub is easy to overlook when not in flower, and can be readily missed during a plant census. It may be more widespread than suspected. Substantial portions of all sizeable populations should be protected; smaller populations should be placed into biological open space if possible.

Copyright © May 1994 Craig H. Reiser.

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