San Francisco lessingia is a California endangered plant species, which means that killing or possessing the plant is prohibited by the California Endangered Species Act (CESA). San Francisco lessingia is also listed as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act. San Francisco lessingia is an annual plant that flowers June through November and occurs on the highly-urbanized San Francisco peninsula, which has lost over 90 percent of its natural habitat. The species is currently restricted to seven locations in San Francisco’s Presidio, and to one isolated location near Hillside Park in Daly City. San Francisco lessingia is especially vulnerable because it is restricted to specific habitat: vegetation gaps on old remnant sand dunes and on related sandy soils.
Threats to remaining San Francisco lessingia populations include continued loss and modification of habitat from trampling and other disturbance; competition with other species particularly invasive species such as iceplant (Carpobrotus sp.); progression of current habitat into a more stable dune scrub habitat; potential loss of pollinators; changes in climate; and habitat fragmentation which increases the vulnerability of the species to erosion, landslides, and other unpredictable events. For example, in November of 2012 a landslide occurred at the isolated San Francisco lessingia population near Hillside Park in Daly City which required emergency repair work. In addition to the immediate effects of the slide, the altered habitat could increase the potential for establishment of invasive species in the area and further affect the population unless the site is actively managed.
The recovery of San Francisco lessingia depends on protection and management of remaining populations and active reintroduction and expansion of San Francisco lessingia into unoccupied, restored, or enhanced habitat within its historic range. The Daly City population should be protected from any further development in the area and an ongoing weed control program should be initiated. Weed removal and control should continue to be conducted at the Presidio populations and opportunities for population expansion should be created. A reintroduced population could be established at Fort Funston, founded by individuals from the Daly City population.
CDFW may issue permits for San Francisco lessingia pursuant to CESA, and you can learn more about the California laws protecting San Francisco lessingia and other California native plants. Populations of San Francisco lessingia occur in CDFW’s Bay Delta Region. More information is also available from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service Species Profile for San Francisco lessingia.