CPC Plant Profile: Santa Cruz Island Bushmallow
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Plant Profile

Santa Cruz Island Bushmallow (Malacothamnus fasciculatus var. nesioticus)

This shot features a closeup of the flower. Photo Credit: Dieter Wilken
  • Global Rank: T1 - Critically Imperiled
  • Legal Status: Federally Endangered
  • Family: Malvaceae
  • State: CA
  • Nature Serve ID: 129046
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 02/10/1987

Malacothamnus fasciculatus var. nesioticus is a small woody shrub in the mallow family (Malvaceae) that can grow up to two meters in height (USFWS 1997a). The shrub's slender branches are covered with star-shaped hairs and are dotted with small rose colored flowers (USFWS 1995). Malacothamnus fasciculatus var. nesioticus is endemic to Santa Cruz Island and is known from only three locations (USFWS 2000).

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  • 09/01/2020
  • Orthodox Seed Banking

Based on an September 2020 extract of the California Plant Rescue Database, Santa Barbara Botanic Garden holds 30 accessions of Malacothamnus fasciculatus var. nesioticus in orthodox seed collection. There are as many as 2122 seeds of this species in their collection - although some may have been used for curation testing or sent to back up.

  • 08/05/2020
  • Seed Collection

Based on an August 2020 extract of the California Plant Rescue Database, Santa Barbara Botanic Garden has collected 30 seed accessions of Malacothamnus fasciculatus var. nesioticus from 8 plant occurrences listed in the California Natural Diversity Database. These collections together emcompass 142 maternal plants

Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

Known from 2 small populations on Santa Cruz Island off the coast of southern California. One consists of only 10 clones (50 individuals); the other of only 3 clones (19 individuals). Threatened by feral pig rooting. Non-native sheep, which drastically altered the island's ecosystems over the course of 150 years, have now been removed from the area. All the northern Channel Islands have suffered profound loss and degradation of their soils and changes in their plant communities due to large numbers of non-native mammals introduced to the islands starting in the early 1800's.

  • 01/01/2010

The introduction of alien herbivores more than a century ago has had dramatic negative effects on plant community composition on all of the Channel Islands. These effects include the reduction of native plant cover, density and biomass (USFWS 2000). Inten

  • 01/01/2010

Three remaining sites, supporting about 120 individuals, are known from Santa Cruz Island (USFWS 2000).

  • 01/01/2010

The genetics of this taxon were studied in 1995 (Swensen et al. 1995) Morphological variation in the species Malacothamnus fasciculatus was studied by D.L. Benesh, a graduate student at the University of Oklahoma. (Benesh 1999a, 1999b)

  • 01/01/2010

Long-term management goals include restoring distribution and range of species for all communities on the Channel Islands by increasing plant cover and frequency while simultaneously reducing nonnative species (USFWS 2000). The Nature Conservancy and the National Park Service have removed sheep from Santa Cruz and are exploring options for removing feral pigs (USFWS 2000).

  • 01/01/2010

Recovery criteria set forth by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (2000) include stabilizing existing populations and establishing new ones. Research that would aid in conserving plants from these islands includes understanding reproductive ecology and species interactions as well as determining germination and seedling recruitment requirements.


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Taxon Malacothamnus fasciculatus var. nesioticus
Authority (B.L. Robins.) Kearney
Family Malvaceae
CPC Number 2782
ITIS 537367
Common Names Santa Cruz Island bush-mallow | Santa Cruz Island bushmallow
Associated Scientific Names Malacothamnus fasciculatus var. nesioticus | Malacothamnus fasciculatus
Distribution Malacothamnus fasciculatus var. nesioticus is endemic to Santa Cruz Island, part of the Channel Islands, California.
State Rank
State State Rank
California S1

Malacothamnus fasciculatus var. nesioticus can be found on rocky, south facing slopes in chaparral and coastal sage scrub community (USFWS 2000). Malacothamnus fasciculatus var. nesioticus is associated with the following plant species: Artemisia califorica (California sagebrush), Eriogonum arborescens (Santa Cruz Island buckwheat), Rhus integrifolia (lemonade berry), Brickellia californica (California boneset), and (Heteromweles arbutifolia (toyon) (USFWS 2000).

Ecological Relationships

Ecological relationships are unknown.

Common Name Name in Text Association Type Source InteractionID
Lead Institution State Reintroduction Type Year of First Outplanting
U.S. Geological Survey California Reintroduction 1995

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