Limnanthes floccosa ssp. bellingeriana
|(M.E. Peck) Arroyo|
|Edward Guerrant, Ph.D.|
The following Participating Institutions are custodians for this species in the CPC National Collection:
Rae Selling Berry Seed Bank & Plant Conservation Programs
The conservation of Limnanthes floccosa ssp. bellingeriana is fully sponsored.
Edward Guerrant, Ph.D. contributed to this Plant Profile.
In contrast to some of its showier relatives, such as the outbreeding Limnanthes alba, which form spectacular carpets of creamy white flowers in California's Central Valley in May and June, wooly meadowfoam (L. floccosa ssp. bellingeriana) has a more subtle beauty. The plants are small in stature, and their small self-pollinating creamy white flowers often do not open widely.
Fortunately for this rare plant, the very nature of its habitat helps to protect it from some common threats. The rocky, shallow soils in which the diminutive annual plant Limnanthes floccosa ssp. bellingeriana grows are poorly suited to farming. Nevertheless, urban development and road construction are still a threat.
Currently, there is no commercial use for any of the subspecies of Limnanthes floccosa. However, the related Limnanthes alba, a common vernal pool species in the northern part of California's great Central Valley, is being developed as an oil crop for use in Oregon's Willamette Valley, in part because it can grows well in shallow, nutrient poor, waterlogged soils. The oil derived from the seeds is used as an environmentally friendly alternative to whale oils in cosmetics and industrial uses (see Meadowfoam.org (2002) for the story of how this new crop was developed over the last half of the twentieth century). In addition to its intrinsic value, L. floccosa ssp. bellingeriana may harbor important genetic properties, such as those related to self-pollination, which could be used to improve the newly domesticated meadowfoam as an even more environmentally friendly crop. But, unless habitat is protected from development, we may never find out.
Distribution & Occurrence
High-elevation vernal pools (seasonal wetlands) in rocky meadows with shallow soils that are at least partially shaded in the spring. Elevations range from 3600 to 3900 ft (1100-1200 m) in Oregon, and California populations from 950 to 3600 ft (290 -1100 m).
CA: Cascade Range and its foothills (Shasta Co). [California populations of L. floccosa ssp. bellingeriana are not recognized as distinct from L. floccosa ssp. floccosa and in need of additi
|Approximately 14 Oregon populations known, all in Jackson and Klamath counties. On the order of 5000 to 20,000 flowering plants recorded in different years for different populations. An additional 5 populations described from California, all in Shasta county (see Tibor 2001, Ornduff 1993)|
Conservation, Ecology & Research
Habitat loss due to residential and urban development.
Habitat destruction due to changes in hydrology.
Invasive exotic weeds.
Roadside mowing and herbicide spraying.
Electrophoretic study of genetic diversity in Limnanthes, section Inflexae, to which L. floccosa ssp. bellingeriana belongs (McNeill and Jain 1983).
Seeds stored at The Berry Botanic Garden.
Determine ecological relationships with other species.
Determine extent and longevity of naturally occurring soil seed bank.
Determine effective germination procedures.
Determine reliable propagation and reintroduction protocols.
Thorp, R.W. 1976. Insect pollination of vernal pool flowers. University of California, Davis: Institute of Ecology Publication No. 9. 36-40p.