Based on an September 2020 extract of the California Plant Rescue Database, California Botanic Garden holds 1 accessions of Ceanothus ophiochilus in orthodox seed collection. There are as many as 759 seeds of this species in their collection - although some may have been used for curation testing or sent to back up.
Development threatens the largest known population. Fire has the potential to eliminate or greatly set back this species--its true affects are as yet unknown.
Hybridization with a common species of Ceanothus is another potential threat
Ceanothus ophiochilus is narrowly endemic to southwestern Riverside County, California, where it is restricted to nutrient poor soils. There are three populations known, with a total of about 7000-9000 individuals, some of them hybrids between this species and the locally common hoary-leaf ceanothus (C. crassifolius). All the populations are threatened by encroaching urban development, ensuing fire management, and less significantly, vandalism.
Found at three sites in Riverside county. One population contains 3,000 to 5,000 plants in privately owned land, and the other two exist on land managed by the Forest Service, and contain over 4,000 individuals total. (USFWS 1998)
The owner of the site has funded research by the county to determine how the use of fire could help or hurt the species. Also part of this research is a study to determine the risk of genetic swamping by hybridization with nearby common ceanothus species.
Two of the three known populations are protected, but the third (which happens to be the largest and most genetically pure) occurs on land that has repeatedly been proposed for development. A number of agencies have attempted to purchase the land where this population occurs, but have been unsuccessful for the last decade (CDFG 2002)
Reproductive studies to determine the impact of fire.
Field surveys to determine if there are any other areas with the same pyroxinite soils or if there are other populations of the species.
Isoenzyme analysis to measure gene flow between this species and its more common neighbors.
Transplantation experiments to determine if this species can grow in any other soil types.
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