|BOTANICAL ELECTRONIC NEWS|
|No. 401 November 26, firstname.lastname@example.org||Victoria, B.C.|
Bulbostylis capillaris (L.) Kunth ex C.B. Clarke (densetuft hairsedge) is a small tufted annual in the Cyperaceae family that bears a superficial resemblance to the native Isolepis cernua (Vahl) Roemer & Schultes. It has fine hair-like, mostly basal leaves and slender stems with terminal clusters of spikelets some of which may be on extended peduncles. The fruit is an achene with wavy horizontal ridges, topped by a tubercle at the base of the persistent style.
Bulbostylis capillaris is found in eastern North America from Canada south to the Caribbean and across the southern states to California and south to South America. It is also introduced in Hawaii (Wagner et al. 2005), and reported from Asia (Kral 2003), but it is unclear whether these reports refer to the native American taxon. In Canada it is considered a rare native in Ontario and Quebec and introduced at several additional sites in those provinces as well as further east to the Atlantic. On the Pacific coast it is primarily a Californian species, but has also been collected in Josephine County Oregon (Thomas Howell s.n., July 1, 1887 at OSU). “This species has not been collected in Oregon since 1887, and is considered extinct by the Oregon Natural Heritage Information Centre” (Aaron Liston, personal communication).
I collected Bulbostylis capillaris in a dried-out mossy opening on sandstone bedrock in Douglas-fir - arbutus dry woods south of Nanaimo, British Columbia on 23 August, 2005. The plants were past maturity and dried-out, but still with intact spikelets with plenty of ripe fruit. The small patch was dense and formed an oddly square-shaped light brown patch in the dried moss and herb mat where vernal seeps channelled into a small central drainage trough with exposed bare mineral soil and organic muck. These vernally moist sites are normally dried out by mid-summer and scorched after the summer droughts. No other plants were found outside of this single site and no similar habitat was noted in the area. A thorough search of the area is recommended to determine the full extent of this population. It seems reasonable to suppose that the Nanaimo site is introduced for a number of reasons.
In the eastern parts of North America, Bulbostylis capillaris is also an often weedy species that readily colonizes moist sandy, often disturbed sites outside of its native habitat (Peter Zika, personal communication). Many Ontario occurrences are adventive along roads and railways (Ontario Natural Heritage web site: http://nhic.mnr.gov.on.ca/MNR/nhic/species/lists/rarevascular.pdf ).
The Nanaimo site is some 750 km north of the historic site in Grants Pass, Josephine County, Oregon. There is also a specimen collected by Elihu Hall 565, 1871, from “Oregon” with no further details (Peter Zika, Aaron Liston, personal communication). This huge disjunct separation is almost unheard of in the glaciated regions of British Columbia. [Editorial comment: ... unless we overlook over a dozen plants of vernal pools and seeps associated with Garry oak alias White Oregon oak - see Ceska & Ceska 1997 and Fairbarns 2003.] Virtually every vascular plant species in British Columbia has migrated north or south after the end of the ice age some 14,000 to 10,000 years ago, but this separation of nearly 1000 km from the nearest site in California is hard to imagine. The fact that this species has apparently not been previously collected in an easily accessible area near a major urban centre is rather odd, though not unheard of. Bulbostylis capillaris is small, but the finely textured patch I saw easily stands out from the surrounding vegetation, at least during the summer.
On the other hand... the plants grew in a natural situation, the microsite was a rare special habitat of moist exposed mineral soil, and there are several species, e.g., Allium amplectens Torr., Carex feta Bailey, Carex tumulicola Mackenzie, Centaurium muehlenbergii (Griseb.) W. Wright ex Piper, Cyperus squarrosus L., Epilobium densiflorum (Lindl.) Hoch & P.H. Raven, Heterocodon rariflorum Nutt., Juncus kelloggii Engelm., Lotus pinnatus Hook., and Sericocarpus rigidus Lindl. that are considered native to the seepage sites and vernal depressions in the immediate areas of Harewood Plains, within ca. 3 km from the Bulbostylis capillaris locality. Some of these are also quite distant from the nearest sites in Washington and Oregon. The presence of Juncus kelloggii is perhaps the strongest reason why Bulbostylis could be considered a native plant. It would also be expected that if Bulbostylis was introduced it would most likely first colonize the disturbed sandy moist tracks and clearings nearby, then over time, move into small natural microsite. But my 1 hour search of the immediate area showed no sign of it in the tracks and roadsides. If it were native, the reverse would more likely be true and it would take some time to colonize these new sites. [Editorial note: The same logic led Hitchcock & Cronquist (1973) to consider Trifolium depauperatum Desv. introduced in the Washington State and Coleanthus subtilis (Tratt.) Seidel to be a "European weed" introduced in North America.]
It seems plausible that this population arose by natural means, perhaps by birds, from sites in California and has been here for quite some time. In any case, it has been decided that Bulbostylis capillaris shall be deemed a rare native plant in BC and is classified as S1, the highest ranking: Critically Imperiled. In fact it is perhaps one of the rarest vascular plants extant in BC. Known only from a single site 5 x 2 m.
I would like to thank Adolf & Oluna Ceska, Aaron Liston, Jenifer Penny, S. Galen Smith and Peter Zika for their contributions.
Collection details as follows:
Bulbostylis capillaris (L.) Kunth ex C.B. Clarke Cyperaceae
[Images of Cortinarius ponderosus, photos by Judy Rogers]
When Alexander Smith published Cortinarius ponderosus in Contributions to the Michigan Academy of Sciences, June 1939, he must have been delighted to include a photo of “The stipe X 1” with a thickness of 65 mm. This species, often the size of very large Boletus or Catathelasma, is most impressive when seen forming large arcs in mixed pine-oak forests of California and Oregon. In recent years, the range of C. ponderosus has been extended northward into southwestern Washington where it was first collected by the late Ben Woo in October 2004 at Lake Sylvia State Park, outside of Montesano, in mixed woods, including conifers. Just recently, Judy Rogers found this large fungus in Indian Henry Campground, Oregon, under Douglas fir and western red cedar.. In 1996 it was collected along Mary’s Peak Trail, under Douglas fir and western hemlock. What we know about it distribution and tree hosts has been gathered from a number of collections over several years (see for example, Mycotaxon 74: 31-35, 2000). It has a tendency to fruit locally, often in rather large numbers, at least at the limits of its northern range. There is some variation in the coloration of the stipe, cap and gills, and it is possible that the species is represented by more than the typical forma (also see comments in Mushrooms Demystified, 2nd. Ed. D. Arora. 1986.). Collectors who find this Cortinarius should record information on its coloration and habitat, and preserve a voucher specimen by drying for DNA sequencing, so that we can better understand its taxonomic limits, relationships and ecology. Cortinarius ponderosus appears to be a regional endemic, extending from California into Oregon and Washington at low to mid elevations.
The photos of this species (Figures 1 and 2, by Judy Rogers) show its general color, size and characteristics. In general, the typical form of the species reminds one of an enormous Tricholoma focale. It features a large, broadly convex cap with an enrolled edge, often viscid with brown, appressed scales, margin ochre pallid to greenish yellow and center often brownish. The gills are rather narrow, close and lilac tinted at first. The stipe apex is whitish, below colored much like the cap, and with yellowish to brownish patches and zones of veil, surface sometimes slimy from gluten that drips from the cap edge. The interior is rather pale, has a distinct fungoid to pungent odor, and the taste is mild then slightly bitter with prolonged chewing. The viscid covering (primarily from the cap surface) often can be found as yellowish slime on the surface of the stipe. This could lead one to associate this species with subgenus Myxacium sensu lato. However, other features (elliptical to almond-shaped spores, 7-9 x 4-5.5 ?m in size, and structure of the cap cuticle) are more characteristic of subgenus Phlegmacium. Molecular phylogenetic studies are needed to determine its relationship to other Cortinarius species. The only sequence data to date is in Bruns et al., Molecular Ecology 7: 257–272, 1998.
Populations of nine noteworthy plant species are reported from the Cascade Lee south of Princeton. The population of Antennaria flagellaris, listed Endangered under the federal Species at Risk Act, occupies a habitat and elevation different from that of the other three known populations in Canada. Leptosiphon harknessii is known in only one other site in Canada. Lewisia cf. nevadensis, though not typical material, is a newly reported species for Canada, and Micranthes idahoensis is also reported new for the country. Lupinus latifolius var. latifolius is first definitively reported for Canada, though a previous unverified report exists. New populations of the provincially Red- and Blue-listed species Epilobium mirabile, Mimulus breviflorus and Polygonum kelloggii are also reported. Conservation of the Canadian Cascade lee and its rich flora is discussed.
The crest of the Cascade Mountains runs the length of Washington State, dividing the wetter Pacific slope on the west from the drier leeward slope on the east. The eastern slope (the Cascade Lee) is recognized in Washington as having high conservation value owing to its amazing diversity of species and wide array of habitats, as well as for the visual quality of its landscapes. Located here are some of the most important centres of plant biodiversity and endemism in Washington, including Klickitat County, the Wenatchee Mountains, and the western portions of Okanogan County. While land management in the U.S. portion of the Cascades Lee emphasizes biodiversity and ecosystem health, the same can hardly be said for the smaller portion of this zone that extends northward into Canada. Here, the Cascade Lee is far less pristine. A quick “overflight” courtesy of Google Earth reveals a tight network of roads and a patchwork of clearcuts and mines across large swathes of these foothills; strikingly more resource extraction and its accompanying habitat loss than is evident from satellite images of the U.S. portion of the Cascade Lee.
Though the Cascade Lee extends north less than 100 km into Canada, this region nevertheless makes up in biological significance what it lacks in size. Numerous regionally endemic plants are found in the Canadian portion of the Cascade Lee. Some of these are globally rare, so rare and under such threat in Canada that their continued existence in the country is precarious. With this report of new finds of rare plants, I hope to emphasize that we still have some way to go to fully appreciate the contribution the Cascade Lee makes to the biota of Canada. It is a region that warrants more attention from botanists, naturalists and the conservation community, and ultimately, from those responsible for land management.
In June 2008, I made a stop along the Crow’s Nest Highway in its intersect of the Cascade Lee on a ridge about 15 km south of Princeton. Though I merely stopped to stretch my legs, one curiosity led to another until I had found a number of unusual habitats that are home to a rich flora, including some very rare species. I found a total of 168 native plant taxa. Nine of these proved to be of special note: Antennaria flagellaris (Endangered under the Species at Risk Act), Epilobium mirabile (Red-listed in B.C.), Leptosiphon harknessii (Second locality for Canada), Lewisia columbiana var. columbiana (Blue-listed in B.C.), Lewisia cf. nevadensis (intermediate to L. pygmaea; L. nevadensis would be new to Canada), Lupinus latifolius var. latifolius (not currently recognized for Canada, but previously reported), Micranthes idahoensis (new to Canada, bicentral regional endemic of north central Idaho/adjacent Montana and the Cascade Lee in Washington and Oregon), Mimulus breviflorus (Red-listed in B.C.), and Polygonum kelloggii (Blue-listed in B.C.).
I found Lupinus latifolius var. latifolius growing in stands of Calamagrostis rubescens in open conifer forest on slopes. This species is widely distributed through the Copper Mountain site, but a voucher specimen and GPS waypoint were taken at 49.2995º N 120.5887º W. Recent Canadian floras do not attribute this taxon to the country, but it was cited for B.C. in the Flora of the Pacific Northwest (Hitchcock & Cronquist 1973). In the Illustrated Flora of British Columbia Lupinus treatment, Lupinus latifolius var. latifolius will key to either L. rivularis, from which it differs in having hollow stems and the upper keel limb margin glabrous in the apical 1/3, and in its upland habitat, or to L. arcticus subsp. subalpinus, from which it differs in having petioles less than 1.5 x the length of the leaflets, calyx lobes of roughly equal length, the upper keel limb margin glabrous in the apical 1/3 rather than ciliate throughout or to within 1/4 of the apex, and in its lowland habitat. Lupinus latifolius var. latifolius is known from coastal California, northward to the Washington Cascades. Its full geographical extent in B.C. is unknown.
Further up the slopes, around 49.3040º N 120.5844º W, a seepage area on ridge line slopes is home to five of the nine noteworthy plants. These species all grow on shallow soils over dark, fine-grained igneous rock. The seepage flows until the onset of the summer drought, favouring species that prefer to be wet early in the growing season and dry for the remainder of the year. Among these plants are two species listed Red by the B.C. Conservation Data Centre (BC Ministry of Environment, 2008), Epilobium mirabile and Mimulus breviflorus. The former is a bicentral regional endemic of the Cascade and Olympic Mountains in northwest Washington and adjacent B.C., and with an eastern centre of populations in the Rocky Mountains in southern Alberta and northern Montana (Wagner & Hoch, 2005). The latter species is widespread in the northwestern U.S. and is peripheral in B.C. (Hickman 1993). Another CDC-listed (Blue) species present in this habitat is Polygonum kelloggii, which occurs over a wide range in the western U.S., north to adjacent B.C.
Lewisia cf. nevadensis also occurs within this seepage habitat. These plants are consistently intermediate between Lewisia nevadensis and L. pygmaea, having the acute, spreading sepals, the turnip-shaped root stock, the larger petals and the long leaves and overall larger size of the former, but with the glandular sepal margins and pink petals more often found in the latter (Hickman 1993, Flora of North America Committee 1997). Additionally, L. nevadensis is found at lower elevations (1300-3200 m), as with the elevation of the Copper Mountain site (1340 m), while L. pygmaea is found higher up, at subalpine to alpine elevations (2300-4200 m) (Flora of North America Committee 1997). Given that the majority of morphological characteristics agree with L. nevadensis, I feel that it is more conservative to apply that name to the Copper Mountain population, and this would be the first record for L. nevadensis in Canada. In the remainder of its range, L. nevadensis is widespread in mountains of the western U.S., and is known in Washington shortly south of the international Border. I found fewer than 30 plants of L. nevadensis at the Copper Mountain site, and some of its habitat is altered by a jeep track that runs adjacent to the population.
Lastly, the seepage habitat supports a population of Micranthes idahoensis, a member of the Micranthes occidentalis complex. From other members of this complex in British Columbia, M. idahoensis differs in having the combination of club-shaped anther filaments, a diffuse paniculate inflorescence, reflexed sepals, and superior ovary with nearly free carpels (Hitchcock & Cronquist 1973). Its previously known range is in two parts: reaching through the canyons of northcentral Idaho and adjacent Montana and Oregon, and a disjunct centre of populations in the Wenatchee Mountains in Washington’s Cascade Lee.
Shortly north and slightly upslope of the seepage habitat is an open, treeless, rocky bald of thin, well-drained soil over rubbly bedrock. One of the dominant species in this habitat is the CDC Blue-listed Lewisia columbiana var. columbiana, present there in the thousands of individuals. I can’t help but to indulge in noting that its mass flower displays in June are a spectacular sight. This population occurs at 1350 m elevation, at 49.3046º N 120.5843º W.
Eastward and downslope from the seepage habitat is an open flat of approximately 1/2 hectare having soil formed of mixed gravel and clay. One of the dominant species in this habitat is Antennaria flagellaris, in its fourth known population in Canada. At the Copper Mountain site, A. flagellaris occurs about 450 m higher than the previously known sites in the Princeton Basin (Douglas et al. 2003). At the Copper Mountain site, Artemisia tridentate subsp. vaseyana is a codominant, along with Erigeron compositus, Erigeron linearis, Lomatium ambiguum, Poa scabrella, Pseudoroegneria spicata and Sedum stenopetalum, plus the moss Niphotrichum canescens (Hedwig) Bednarek-Ochyra & Ochyra. Thus this population differs also in its associated plant species. This population of an estimated 5000-10000 individuals occurs at 1300 m, around 49.3041º N 120.5811º W.
Growing with Antennaria flagellaris in this gravel-flat habitat is Leptosiphon harknessii, in what is apparently only the second population known in Canada (Douglas et al. 2002). It is similar to Leptosiphon septentrionalis, which is more widespread in B.C., but differs in having a smaller, white corolla and glabrous anther filaments. I estimate that roughly 1000 individuals constitute this population.
Within the context of the Cascade Lee, the Copper Mountain site stands out as having a unique combination of plant species, combining elements of the subboreal continent-wide flora (as with Rhinanthus minor, Shepherdia canadensis and Symphyotrichum ciliolatum), with numerous more southern temperate elements, as well as regionally endemic and globally rare taxa (as with Epilobium mirabile and Micranthes idahoensis). This points to the Canadian portion of the Cascade Lee as being not merely derivative of the U.S. portion; it is an important, uniquely Canadian, contribution to the biome as a whole. British Columbia’s share of the Cascade Lee is small but very significant in its contribution to the flora of Canada. It is nationally unique, it has numerous rare and uncommon habitats, and its remaining wild landscapes are of great scenic value. This is a region that should receive better regard from land managers. The roads, clearcuts and mine wastes evident in the view from Google Earth reveal the level of regard the Canadian portion of the Cascade Lee has been given thus far.
Manning and Cathedral Provincial Parks are important sanctuaries within the Cascade Lee biome, but the great geographical majority of this biome in Canada lies outside these parks, and some significant elements of the Cascade Lee flora is not encompassed within the park boundaries. Clearly, the protection of Canada’s biodiversity is contingent not only on preserving the smaller portions of biomes that fall within park boundaries, it relies also on considerate land management in the areas that fall outside of parks. It’s a raw and unfortunate deal exchanging the biodiversity, ecosystem health and visual quality of wild lands for the temporary value of commodities and money in the bank. We’ve seen in these recent economic times what can happen to the value of commodities and money in the bank. The value of wild land never falters.
Plants of the Copper Mountain Site, observed 15 June, 2008. An asterisk precedes non-native species. Collection numbers of any vouchers are reported in parantheses after the name, as are any relevant synonyms. Vouchers are currently held in Herb. Björk, and will be deposited at UBC.
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