Endangered Species

Endangered Species

Ben Lomond Spineflower

Ben Lomond Spineflower

Scientific Name: Chorizanthe pungens var. hartwegiana

Status: E

The Ben Lomond spineflower is a small annual herb in the buckwheat family; it is native and restricted to California alone. The plants grow up to 2.5 decimeters (10 inches) high. Flowers are pink with small distinct heads. This is a short-lived annual species. Seeds germinate in late fall after the first substantial rains. Plants mature through the winter, flower in April and May, and die soon after seed production in June. The life span of the plant ranges from 15 to 21 weeks, with most of the variability coming during the adult stage. It is unable to tolerate shade and is pollinated by a variety of insects, including wasps, bees, flies, and butterflies.

Habitat: Limited to sandhills habitat in the Santa Cruz Mountains of central coastal California (Santa Cruz County). Experimentation indicates that the Ben Lomond spineflower is not restricted to sandy soils due to any chemical, physical, or biological requirements, but is intolerant of shade and unable to compete for light with other species that commonly occur on the nonsandy soils.

Threats: At least half of this species' habitat is seriously threatened by sand and gravel mining, as well as expanding residential development. Off-road vehicles are also a threat.

To Learn More:

  • Calflora Database
    Detailed information about California plant biodiversity for conservation, education, and appreciation; covers more than 7,660 native and introduced species.
  • CalPhotos - University of CA, Berkeley
    Browseable photographs of the species.
  • NatureServe Explorer
    Enter species name in the search box to access a detailed description, including habitat, current conservation status, ecological and distribution data with citations to relevant management reports.
  • Santa Cruz Public Libraries - Local Resources
    Searches SCPL's online catalog for local documents and other information on this species.
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
    Documents describing protection for this species under the Endangered Species Act. General information about the species as well as plans both to protect it and to help it recover.
  • Species Account
    Excerpts from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service documents available at the Central Branch Library