Sebastopol Meadowfoam

(Limnanthes vinculans)

Sebastopol meadowfoam is a California endangered plant species, which means that killing or possessing the plant is prohibited by the California Endangered Species Act (CESA). The species is also listed as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act. Sebastopol meadowfoam occurs naturally in Sonoma and Napa Counties with most populations located in the central and southern portions of the Santa Rosa Plain near the City of Santa Rosa. At the time of this page’s posting, the California Natural Diversity Database reported 37 occurrences of this species that are presumed to still exist. However, many of these occurrences have not been located in several years. According to the most recent Five Year Review by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (PDF), all of the occurrences are within ten distinct hydrological populations. Sebastopol meadowfoam is a small annual plant with white flowers that appear April through May. Sebastopol meadowfoam is sometimes associated with Burke’s goldfields (Lasthenia burkei) and Sonoma sunshine (Blennosperma bakeri) which are also listed as endangered species under CESA.

Populations of vernal pool plants such as Sebastopol meadowfoam are typically discontinuous and fragmented due to differences in climate, substrate, and topography, and are often restricted to very specific habitats and locations. These factors, coupled with urbanization and the conversion of land for agriculture, endanger many California vernal pool species with extinction. The biggest threat to Sebastopol meadowfoam continues to be urban development and conversion of land to viticulture or other intensive land uses, and the resulting habitat fragmentation. Sebastopol meadowfoam is also sensitive to land use changes that cause variations in hydrology and the duration of vernal pool inundation. Sebastopol meadowfoam is also threatened by increased runoff, frequent discing of land, breaking of the vernal pool hardpan, and activities that allow competing plant species to become established. Other threats include manipulation of normal gene flow resulting from restoration work, buildup of thatch in previously grazed areas, and the effects of climate change.

Although work has already begun to conserve this species, further action is necessary to aid Sebastopol meadowfoam. Remaining natural populations of Sebastopol meadowfoam should be protected and new populations should be established that do not negatively affect the natural populations. Non-native plant species that compete with Sebastopol meadowfoam should be managed and effective weed eradication measures that do not harm Sebastopol meadowfoam should be researched. Populations of Sebastopol meadowfoam should be monitored using standardized protocols; and research into the habitat requirements, reproductive ecology, gene flow, seed bank dynamics, and the long-term viability of restoration sites should be conducted.

CDFW has participated in the following Sebastopol meadowfoam studies and papers through participation in the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund or other mechanisms:

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

Updated 01/13/2014

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Limnanthes vinculans, CDFW photo by Jeb Bjerke
Limnanthes vinculans, CDFW photo by Jeb Bjerke
Limnanthes vinculans CDFW illustration by Mary Ann Showers, click for full-sized image
Limnanthes vinculans, CDFW illustration by Mary Ann Showers, click for full-sized image