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Threatened and Endangered Species

Threatened and Endangered Plants

Thanks to the passage of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 and the inclusion of plants for the first time, the State of Oregon has been keeping a list of rare, threatened, and endangered plants since the 1979 publication of Rare, Threatened and Endangered Vascular Plants in Oregon - An Interim Report. There are currently five plants that are threatened or endangered in Oregon's North Coast.

Coast Range Fawn-Lily

Coast Range fawn-lily

Coast Range Fawn-Lily
(Ed Guerrant, Center
for Plant Conservation)


Coast Range fawn-lily (Erythronium elegans) presents something of a paradox. Geographically, it is a highly restricted, very rare plant, that is also an ecological generalist. It has been found growing in only five localities, all in the northern Coast Range of Oregon. Even within particular populations, they can be found growing quite contentedly in a wide variety of habitats: from bare soil to completely vegetated ground; in either full sun or deep shade; growing in dry shale road cuts and saturated Sphagnum moss.

Without careful management, the elegant fawn-lily may one day be found nowhere. With such a low number of populations, the species is susceptible to extinction due to habitat destruction and random events. The species is listed as Threatened by the State of Oregon. Presently, the US Fish and Wildlife Service recognize this species as a "Species of Concern". If the Coast Range fawn-lily were to receive listing under the Endangered Species Act, four populations would fall under jurisdiction of the federal government, since they are located on federal land. The Nature Conservancy and the Oregon Native Plant Society are presently monitoring the remaining population on private land.

 

Pink Sand Verbena

Pink sand verbena

Pink Sand Verbena (Lynn Watson,
CA Bureau of Land Management )


Pink sand verbena (Abronia umbellate ssp. breviflora) is an annual plant with bright magenta flowers. Leaves are diamond shaped and succulent. Fruit have four poorly to moderately developed, angled wings. The plant occurs from Oregon south to the central coast of California (Marin County), and is found in disturbed sandy areas in coastal dunes and scrub. Populations are usually small. Pink sand verbena flowers between July and October. Before flowering, pink sand verbena may be confused with yellow sand verbena (Abronia latifolia), but yellow sand verbenas leaves are more oval than triangular. Upon flowering, there is no chance of confusion.

 

Cascade Head Catchfly

Cascade Head catchfly

Cascade Head Catchfly (Ed Guerrant,
Center for Plant Conservation)


Silene douglasii var. oraria is found only in three coastal prairie sites in Oregon which are separated by approximately 30 to 75 miles (50-120 km). It is not known whether these plants once had a more extensive distribution. As late as the 1880s, coastal prairie was found extensively along the Oregon coast for a distance of nearly 250 miles (400km). Human caused disturbances and habitat succession have effectively destroyed most of this important habitat type.

 

Nelson's Checker-Mallow

Nelson's checker-mallow

Nelson's Checker-Mallow
(Washington State Dept.
of Transportation)


Nelsons checker-mallow (Sidalcea nelsoniana) is an herbaceous perennial with short, thick rhizomes. The stems bear alternate leaves that are round toothed, and palmately lobed, and the basal leaves are palmately lobed. The flowers (30-100) have a 5-parted calyx with tiny, generally purplish stellae. The five petals are colored from lavender to deep pink. The stamens are fused at the base to form a tube around the style (characteristic of the mallow/hibiscus family). The fruits contain 7-9 single-seeded, beaked carpels in a ring that separate at maturity.

Like many members of this genus, Nelsons checker-mallow exhibits a gynodioecious breeding system whereby mature plants produce either exclusively female flowers or perfect flowers, i.e., those with both male and female parts. Although the two types of plants exhibit no perceptible vegetative differences, female flowers are generally smaller than perfect flowers, and bear only vestigial, non-functional anthers.

 

Pt. Reyes Bird's-Beak

Pt. Reyes bird's-beak

Pt. Reyes Bird's-Beak (2002 Brad Kelley)


Pt. Reyes bird's-beak (Cordylanthus maritimus ssp. palustris) is found in coastal salt marshes and swamps at less than 10 meters or 33 feet in elevation. An annual, hemiparasitic, few-branched herb, this plant has a central spike, yellow roots, and head-like inflorescence. The flowers are club shaped, with a corolla that is white to cream colored with the purple-tinged tips and has an upper lip that forms a beak. Pt. Reyes birds-beak flowers between June and October, at which time it is best identified. The name of this genus, Cordylanthus, is derived from Greek and means club-shaped flower, while the species name, maritimus, is Latin for belonging to the sea and subspecies name palustris, is Latin for marshy.

 

For More Information...

USDA National Agricultural Library - Oregon: Invasive Species Info Page

State of Oregon - Oregon Invasive Species Council

Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife - Oregon Invasive Species Action Plan

National Wildlife Federation - Invasive Species in Oregon

Oregon Public Broadcasting. The Silent Invasion

Sources

Defenders of Wildlife. Protection of endangered species. Washington, D.C.: Defenders. [n.d.].

Oregon Biodiversity Information Center. Rare, threatened and endangered species of Oregon. Portland, OR: Oregon State University. 2007.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service. Threatened and endangered plants. Baton Rouge, LA: Southern University. [n.d.].

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Endangered Species Program. Washington, D.C.: The Service. 2007.

Compiled by John Ame, Science Writer (2007)