CPC National Collection Plant Profile

Thermopsis macrophylla

Photographer:
Dieter Wilken

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CPC National Collection Plant Profile

Thermopsis macrophylla


Family: 
Fabaceae  
Common Names: 
Santa Ynez false lupine, Santa Ynez goldenbanner
Author: 
Hook. & Arn
Growth Habit: 
Forb/herb
CPC Number: 
15994

Distribution
Protection
Conservation
References


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Thermopsis macrophyllaenlarge
Photographer: Dieter Wilken
dwilken[at]sbbg.org

Thermopsis macrophyllaenlarge
Photographer: Dieter Wilken
dwilken[at]sbbg.org


Thermopsis macrophylla is Not Sponsored
Primary custodian for this plant in the CPC National Collection of Endangered Plants is: 
Dieter Wilken, Ph.D. contributed to this Plant Profile.

 
Thermopsis macrophylla


Fewer than 2500 plants survive within a relatively narrow band about 3 miles long along the crest of the central Santa Ynez Mountains in Santa Barbara County, California. Current populations consist of plants similar in age and may be several decades old, because seeds germinate only after historically infrequent fires. Plants are the largest in the genus Thermopsis, are up to 1 meter wide, and are up to 2 meters tall when in full bloom. Leaves appear in the late winter, forming large clusters near the base. Each plant may produce up to 10 flowering stalks, each bearing between 90 and 100 flowers that are 2 cm long. (Chen et al. 1994)

Distribution & Occurrence

State Range
  California
State Range of  Thermopsis macrophylla
Habitat
  Open sites on gravelly to rocky substrates derived from sandstone at an altitude of 1000 - 1400 meters. Common chaparral associates include Adenostoma fasciculatum, Arctostaphylos glandulosa, and Ceanothus leucodermis. Populations occur on open sites that experience wet winters, hot summer days, and foggy summer nights.

Distribution
  Santa Ynez Mountains, Santa Barbara County, California

Number Left
  Single individuals and colonies consisting of 3-150 plants are dispersed as patches within a narrow, oblong area about 3 miles long. The number of plants are estimated to be between 2,000 and 2,500. A small disjunct population of less than 10 plants occurs about 15 miles distant in the same mountain range. Reports of other plants in the Santa Ynez Mountains have not been substantiated by recent surveys, and reports from other mountain ranges in California are based on misidentifications.

Protection

Global Rank:  
G1
 
6/7/2005
Guide to Global Ranks
Federal Status:  
 
Guide to Federal Status
Recovery Plan:  
No
 

State/Area Protection
  State/Area Rank Status Date  
  California S1.3  

Conservation, Ecology & Research

Ecological Relationships
  Life history and population structure appear related to recurrent fires (Borchert 1989). Plants possess subterranean buds that survive chaparral fires.
The seeds have exceptionally hard coats and do not germinate unless they have been scarified and/or heated to temperatures of 80 degrees Centigrade.
Plants are self-compatible, and are actively visited by bumblebees and carpenter bees (Wilken pers. obs.).
Each fruit produces a full complement of 6-8 seeds, which are dispersed passively. Because large plants often produce several inflorescences, each with as many as 100 flowers, a substantial seed bank can be expected in close proximity. However, Borchert (1989) found low rates of recruitment and establishment from seed during 8 years following a controlled burn.

Threats
  Habitat disturbance and loss of plants along roads and off-road mountain bike trails.
Proposed 300-foot-wide fire break.
Potential perturbation of natural fire cycles.
Competition at seedling stage from annual exotic grasses.
Damage to plants by illegal off-highway vehicles and trail bikes.

Current Research Summary
  Studies are being conducted by the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden on germination rates following short-term cold storage.
Populations are monitored annually to estimate numbers, reproductive rates, and pollinator visitation.

Current Management Summary
  All known plants occur on lands managed by the Los Padres National Forest. Parking along the road in the vicinity of plants is limited or restricted, and motorized off-highway vehicles are prohibited.

Research Management Needs
  Genetic analysis within and among populations.
Ecological factors determining successful establishment of plants from seeds.
A management plan that increases the number of plants and ensures stable population structure.

Ex Situ Needs
  Additional collections of seeds, segregated by maternal plants, representing the entire geographic distribution.

References

Books (Sections)

Kartesz, J.T. 1999. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the U.S., Canada, and Greenland. In: Kartesz, J.T.; Meacham, C.A., editors. Synthesis of the North American Flora, Version 1.0. North Carolina Botanical Garden. Chapel Hill, NC.

Electronic Sources

CalPhotos. (2002). CalPhotos: Berkely Digital Library Project. University of California, Berkeley. http://elib.cs.berkeley.edu/photos/. Accessed: 2002.

CDFG. (2002). California's Plants and Animals, Threatened and Endangered Plants. List and Species Accounts. California Department of Fish and Game, Habitat Conservation Planning Branch. http://www.dfg.ca.gov/hcpb/species/t_e_spp/teplant/teplanta.shtml. Accessed: 2002.

Journal Articles

Borchert, M. 1989. Postfire Demography of Thermopsis macrophylla H & A var. agnina J.T. Howell (Fabaceae), a Rare Perennial Herb in Chaparral. American Midland Naturalist. 122, 1: 120-132.

Chen, C.J.; Mendenhall, M.G.; Turner, B.L. 1994. Taxonomy of Thermopsis (Fabaceae) in North America. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden. 81, 4: 714-742.

Theses

Mendenhall, Meghan Glynnis. 1994. Phylogeny of Baptisia and Thermopsis (Leguminosae) as inferred from chloroplast DNA and nuclear ribosomal sequences, secondary chemisty, and morphology (Ribosomal DNA). [Ph.D. Thesis]: The University of Texas at Austin. Austin, TX. 273p.


  This profile was updated on 3/4/2010
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