CPC Plant Profile: Bellinger's Meadowfoam
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Plant Profile

Bellinger's Meadowfoam (Limnanthes floccosa ssp. bellingeriana)

This small five-petalled white flower is not fully open. Photo Credit: J. Kagan
Description
  • Global Rank: T3 - Vulnerable
  • Legal Status: N/A
  • Family: Limnanthaceae
  • State: CA, OR
  • Nature Serve ID: 146704
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 04/01/1990

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.

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Updates
  • 09/19/2020
  • Seed Collection

Seeds stored at The Berry Botanic Garden.

  • 09/19/2020
  • Orthodox Seed Banking

Seeds stored at The Berry Botanic Garden.

  • 09/19/2020
  • Genetic Research

Morphological comparisons with between Limnanthes floccosa ssp. floccosa and L. floccosa ssp. bellingeriana. Differences in pollen morphology, flower shape and wooliness, and the absence of intermediates (indicating interbreeding barriers) between the two taxa suggest that they are two separate species. The researchers suggest that L. floccosa ssp. bellingeriana be elevated to its own species (Southworth and Seevers 1997). Electrophoretic study of genetic diversity in Limnanthes, section Inflexae, to which L. floccosa ssp. bellingeriana belongs (McNeill and Jain 1983).

Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

Fairly low number of element occurrences (23) in a limited habitat in a fairly narrow range. Total acreage for plant populations is low (150 acres). Total number of plants is at least 25,000 but this is an annual.

Edward Guerrant, Ph.D.
  • 01/01/2010

As stated by USFWS 2000, threats include: Habitat loss due to residential and urban development. Habitat destruction due to changes in hydrology. Invasive exotic weeds. Roadside mowing and herbicide spraying.

Edward Guerrant, Ph.D.
  • 01/01/2010

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)

Edward Guerrant, Ph.D.
  • 01/01/2010

Morphological comparisons with between Limnanthes floccosa ssp. floccosa and L. floccosa ssp. bellingeriana. Differences in pollen morphology, flower shape and wooliness, and the absence of intermediates (indicating interbreeding barriers) between the two taxa suggest that they are two separate species. The researchers suggest that L. floccosa ssp. bellingeriana be elevated to its own species (Southworth and Seevers 1997). Electrophoretic study of genetic diversity in Limnanthes, section Inflexae, to which L. floccosa ssp. bellingeriana belongs (McNeill and Jain 1983).

Edward Guerrant, Ph.D.
  • 01/01/2010

Limnanthes floccosa ssp. bellingeriana is considered a candidate for listing in the state of Oregon. It has no legal federal status. Seeds stored at The Berry Botanic Garden.

Edward Guerrant, Ph.D.
  • 01/01/2010

Determine outcrossing rate. Determine ecological relationships with other species. Determine extent and longevity of naturally occurring soil seed bank.

Edward Guerrant, Ph.D.
  • 01/01/2010

Collect and store seeds from across the range. Determine effective germination procedures. Determine reliable propagation and reintroduction protocols.

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Photos
Nomenclature
Taxon Limnanthes floccosa ssp. bellingeriana
Authority (M.E. Peck) Arroyo
Family Limnanthaceae
CPC Number 2556
ITIS 196067
USDA LIFLB
Common Names Bellinger's meadowfoam | woolly meadowfoam
Associated Scientific Names Limnanthes floccosa ssp. bellingeriana | Limnanthes bellingeriana | Limnanthes floccosa var. bellingeriana
Distribution CA(), ORCA: 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
State Rank
State State Rank
California S1
Oregon S2
Habitat

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).

Ecological Relationships

As a species found growing in vernal pools, Limnanthes floccosa ssp. bellingerniana is adapted to grow in soil that transitions from being inundated by water in the winter and spring to being dry in the summer and fall. This seasonal filling and drying of the pools helps to exclude exotics from the pools. However, exotics are often a problem just beyond the edge of the pool where soils are not waterlogged for significant periods of time.

Pollinators
Common Name Name in Text Association Type Source InteractionID
Reintroduction
Lead Institution State Reintroduction Type Year of First Outplanting

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