RARE PLANTS IN THE COUNTY

Almost 7,000 flowering plants, gymnosperms (pines and other cone-bearers), ferns and fern allies are native to California, more than are found in the entire northeastern United States and adjacent Canada, an area 10 times larger. The state's mountain ranges and deserts and its unusual summer-dry climate set the stage for development of a complex flora.

About one-third of the California flora is endemic--plants that are restricted to a particular locality or habitat within the state. In an area botanists define as the California Floristic Province, that part of that state west of the Sierra Nevada-Cascades axis and including parts of southern Oregon and northern Baja California, the degree of endemism rises to 47.7%, which is unmatched in continental flora.

A number of rare and unusual plants are threatened with extinction in California because of development and other disruptions of their habitats. The California Native Plant Society, in its 1984 inventory, listed 21.8% of the state's vascular plants as rare or endangered. The California Nature Conservancy, in a recent study, reported that 118 native plant species or subspecies in the state are officially listed as threatened or endangered by the state or federal governments, and another 487 have the potential to qualify.

Following is a list of Orange County plants that are considered rare or endangered, and some that may already be extinct. Several are found only in the county.

Dense reedgrass (Calamagrostis densa)

Habitat: chaparral, rocky places General location in Orange County: Black Star Canyon, Coal Canyon Overall range: Bulk of range is in San Diego County and Baja California. Legal status: State--noneFederal--candidate category 2CNPS--list 4Natural history note: Occurs with Tecate cypress (another rare species) in Coal Canyon. Threats: grazing San Fernando Valley spineflower (Chorizanthe parryi var. fernandina) Habitat: sandy banks and washes

General location in Orange County: hills near Santa Ana Overall range: primarily in Los Angeles and San Diego counties Legal status: State--noneFederal--candidate category 1CNPS--list 1A (presumed extinct)Natural history note: May be extinct; last Orange County sighting in 1902. Orange County Turkish rugging (Chorizanthe staticoides ssp. chrysacantha) Habitat: chaparral and coastal scrub on sandstone General location in Orange County: Laguna Beach, Aliso Canyon, Laguna Niguel, Newport Beach Overall range: occurs only in Orange County Legal Status: State--none Federal--candidate category 2 CNPS--list 1BNatural history note: endemic to Orange County Threats: development Many-stemmed dudleya (Dudleya multicaulis) Habitat: chaparral and rock outcrops in coastal scrub and coastal prairie General location in Orange County: Corona del Mar, Laguna Beach, Newport Bay, Weir Canyon, Peralta Hills Overall range: significant portion in Orange County; also known in Riverside, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Bernardino counties Legal status: State--none Federal--candidate category 2 CNPS--list 1BNatural history note: succulent perennial Threats: development Laguna Beach live-forever (Dudleya stolonifera) Habitat: coastal scrub on steep, north-facing sandstone outcrops General location in Orange County: Laguna Canyon, Laguna Beach area, Willow Canyon and Aliso Canyon Overall range: occurs only in Orange CountyLegal status: State--threatenedFederal--candidate category 1CNPS--list 1BNatural history note: endemic to Orange County; succulent perennialThreats: developmentSticky dudleya (Dudleya viscida) Habitat: rock outcropsGeneral location in Orange County: Sitton Peak Trail in San Juan CanyonOverall range: Mainly in San Diego CountyLegal status: State--noneFederal--candidate category 1CNPS--list 1BNatural history note: succulent perennialThreats: developmentBraunton's milk vetch (Astragalus brauntonii) Habitat: chaparralGeneral location in Orange County: Coal Canyon, Gypsum Canyon, eastern edge of countyOverall range: Bulk of range is in Los Angeles County but also found in Ventura County.Legal status: State--noneFederal--candidate category 2CNPS--list 1BNatural history note: fire-follower; only visible for a few years after a burnThreats: fire suppression, developmentVentura Marsh milk vetch (Astragalus pycnostachyus var. lanosissimus) Habitat: coastal salt marshGeneral location in Orange County: between Sunset Beach and Huntington BeachOverall range: Most historical locations are in Los Angeles and Ventura countiesLegal status: State--noneFederal--candidate category 1CNPS--list 1A (presumed extinct)Natural history note: possibly extinct throughout its rangeThreats: developmentSanta Ana River woollystar (Eriastrum densifolium ssp. sanctorum) Habitat: alluvial fan sage scrubGeneral location in Orange County: A vague historic collection may have been made near Weir Canyon.Overall range: Most of range is in San Bernardino County.Legal status: State--endangeredFederal--endangeredCNPS--list 1BNatural history note: probably extirpated from Orange CountyThreats: flood control, off-road vehicles, developmentHeart-leaved pitcher sage (Lepechinia cardiophylla) Habitat: chaparralGeneral location in Orange County: Coal Canyon, Santa Ana MountainsOverall range: less than one-third of populations in Orange County; also occurs in Riverside in San Diego countiesLegal status: State--noneFederal--candidate category 2CNPS--list 1BNatural history note: does well after burnsFelt-leaved monardella (Monardella hypoleuca ssp. lanata) Habitat: chaparralGeneral location in Orange County: southeast Orange County, Lion CanyonOverall range: Only one site in Orange County; bulk of populations in San Diego County and Baja CaliforniaLegal status: State--noneFederal--candidate category 2CNPS--list 4Salt marsh bird's beak (Cordylanthus maritimus ssp. maritimus) Habitat: coastal salt marshGeneral location in Orange County: Newport Bay, Anaheim Landing, Bolsas MarshOverall range: primarily in San Diego, Ventura, Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo and San Bernardino countiesLegal status: State--endangeredFederal--endangeredCNPS--list 1BNatural history note: only six locations in Orange County; two have been extirpated, one is on Navy land.Threats: developmentLos Angeles sunflower (Helianthus nuttallii ssp. parishii) Habitat: freshwater marshGeneral location in Orange County: Newport Lagoon and WintersburgOverall range: about 25% of the plant occured in Orange County historically; it is now possibly extinctLegal status: State--noneFederal--candidate category 1CNPS--list 1A (presumed extinct)Natural history note: possibly extinct; last seen in Orange County in 1933Threats: developmentSummer holly (Comarostaphylis diversifolia ssp. diversifolia) Habitat: chaparralGeneral location in Orange County: southern part of county, in vicinity of Monarch Summit and San Juan CanyonOverall range: primarily in San Diego County and Baja CaliforniaLegal status: State--noneFederal--noneCNPS--list 4Threats: development

Tecate cypress (Cupressus guadalupensis ssp. forbesii) Habitat: closed-cone coniferous forestGeneral location in Orange County: Santa Ana MountainsOverall range: Orange County is a significant portion of the tree's range; also occurs to the south of the county.Legal status: State--none Federal--noneCNPS--list 2Natural history note: rare treeThreats: developmentPalmer's grapplinghook (Harpagonella palmeri var. palmeri) Habitat: coastal scrubGeneral location in Orange County: Dana PointOverall range: primarily in San Diego and Riverside countiesLegal status: State--noneFederal--noneCNPS--list 2Threats: developmentSources: California Department of Fish and Game, Natural Diversity Data Base; California Native Plant Society, "Inventory of Rare and Endangered Vascular Plants of California"; California Nature Conservancy, "Sliding Toward Extinction: The State of California's Natural Heritage, 1987."

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