Milo Baker’s lupine (Lupinus milo-bakeri) is a California threatened plant species, which means that killing or possessing the plant is prohibited by the California Endangered Species Act (CESA). Milo Baker’s lupine is a tall annual plant of the legume family (Fabaceae) with blue/lavender flowers that bloom from June through September and turn yellow with age. Milo Baker’s lupine is only found in Round Valley in Mendocino County, near the community of Covelo. There are eleven occurrences of Milo Baker’s lupine documented in the California Natural Diversity Database (CNDDB); however, surveys in 2018 only documented three subpopulations and a total of 37 Milo Baker lupine plants. Milo Baker’s lupine has been found in roadside ditches, dry gravelly areas along roads, and along small streams. The natural microhabitat conditions that supported Milo Baker’s lupine before agricultural use of Round Valley are not known.
Milo-Baker’s lupine is at risk of extinction due to past agricultural conversion of Round Valley, and more recently, due to road maintenance activities conducted primarily by Caltrans. Documented impacts to the species as a result of road maintenance include the destruction of over half of Milo-Baker’s lupine’s total range in the 1980s due to herbicide spraying, installation of a gravel shoulder on top of one of the remaining populations in 2002, and mowing of the largest remaining Milo-Baker’s lupine population in June of 2016, before plants could produce seed. Road maintenance near Milo Baker’s lupine populations has severely reduced the population and range of the species and greatly increased Milo Baker’s lupine’s risk of extinction in the wild.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) collected seeds from remaining Milo-Baker’s lupine plants in 2016 and 2018, and Milo Baker’s lupine plants have been propagated at Rancho Santa Botanic Garden. To reduce the risk of Milo Baker’s lupine’s extinction in the wild, scientific studies of the species should be conducted, and a project to introduce a self-sustaining population of Milo Baker’s lupine into suitable habitat should be developed and implemented in coordination with the Round Valley Indian Tribes and other partners.
CDFW may issue permits for Milo Baker’s lupine pursuant to CESA, and you can learn more about the California laws protecting Milo Baker’s lupine and other California native plants. Populations of Milo Baker’s lupine occur in CDFW's Northern Region