Cordylanthus maritimus ssp. maritimus
|salt marsh bird's-beak|
|(Behr) Chuang & Heckard|
The following Participating Institutions are custodians for this species in the CPC National Collection:
Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden
San Diego Zoo Global
The conservation of Cordylanthus maritimus ssp. maritimus is fully sponsored.
Meghan Fellows contributed to this Plant Profile.
Unlike the other annual plants of the coastal salt marsh, Cordylanthus maritimus ssp. maritimus is a hemiparasite. This is an uncommon feature in southern California salt marshes and makes this plant truly unique. It's purple stems and bright white flowers provide color to the salt marsh long after all the other annuals have set seed and died. It is a hemiparasite on grasses such as Distichlis spicata and Monanthochloe littoralis. Cordylanthus maritimus ssp. maritimus is also known to play a role in the life cycles of both threatened and endangered moths.
Distribution & Occurrence
This subspecies is an inhabitant of the coastal salt marshes, however this plant is rarely discovered very far from the highest high tide elevations, usually on the upper ecotonal edge with the surrounding habitat (coastal scrub, housing developments). Other nearby species include its hosts, Distichlis spicata, Monanthochloe littoralis, and Salicornia subterminalis and Frankenia grandifolia. This region of the salt marsh is also known for its salt pannes, which are areas of the salt marsh devoid of vegetation, probably as a result of their high surface soil salinities (160 ppt). There are usually Cordylanthus plants in the islands of vegetation in the middle of these salt deserts as well as around the edges.
|There are five sites each with one population, population size varies year to year.|
Conservation, Ecology & Research
Animal ecological relationships are with the ground nesting bees (Bombus spp.), pollinators. Tiger beetles are also known from habitat that supports this species.
Sea level rise
Bike path construction
TNC. Watch Your Step: The Larimer Aletes. The Nature Conservancy Newsletter. 2.
Zedler, J.B. 2000. Handbook for Restoring Tidal Wetlands. Boca Raton, London, New York, Washington D.C.: CRC Press.