Orcutt’s Spineflower

(Chorizanthe orcuttiana)

Orcutt’s spineflower is a California endangered plant species, which means that killing or possessing the plant is prohibited by the California Endangered Species Act (CESA). Orcutt’s spineflower is a small annual herb with small, clustered flowers that is only known to occur in San Diego County, California. Orcutt’s spineflower is a very infrequently occurring plant, and was thought to be extinct at one time. This species is also listed as endangered by the federal Endangered Species Act.

Orcutt’s spineflower is endemic to south-central and coastal San Diego County on weathered bluffs or within maritime chaparral. At the time this webpage was posted, the California Natural Diversity Database (CNDDB) lists nine occurrences presumed to still be extant. However, according to the most recent U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Five Year Review, only three occurrences still exist, and only about 5,000 individual plants were reported across the species known range between 2000 and 2007.

Development has been the main threat to Orcutt’s spineflower, but threat from direct development is less of a concern now that it is included in regional habitat conservation plans such as the Multiple Habitat Conservation Plan for north coastal San Diego County cities. Other threats include impacts from recreation, indirect impacts from development, competition with invasive species, and an altered fire regime. Orcutt’s spineflower is also vulnerable to extinction from stochastic (chance) events because of its small population sizes and small number of occurrences. In order to ensure the continued existence of Orcutt’s spineflower, its habitat should be protected and enhanced. Additionally, non-native species should be managed to reduce competition and historical occurrences should be surveyed.

CDFW participated in a study that resulted in a report titled Recovery and Management of Orcutt’s spineflower (Chorizanthe orcuttiana) (PDF). The most recent Orcutt's spineflower Five-Year Review was released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in December of 2007.

CDFW may issue permits for Orcutt’s spineflower pursuant to CESA, and you can learn more about the California laws protecting Orcutt’s spineflower and other California native plants. Populations of Orcutt’s spineflower occur in CDFW’s South Coast Region. More information is also available from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Species Profile for Orcutt’s spineflower.

Updated 12/8/2015

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Chorizanthe orcuttiana
Chorizanthe orcuttiana, Photo © Keir Morse
Chorizanthe orcuttiana CDFW illustration by Mary Ann Showers, click for full-sized image

Chorizanthe orcuttiana, CDFW illustration by Mary Ann Showers, click for full-sized image