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Recovery Strategy for Multi-Species at Risk in Maritime Meadows associated with Garry Oak Ecosystems in Canada (Proposed)

Species Descriptions

1.16 Prairie lupine Lupinus lepidus var. lepidus

Assessment Summary – May 2000

Common name: prairie lupine

Scientific name: Lupinus lepidus var. lepidus

Status: Endangered Reason for designation: Endangered due to small distribution and declining populations. May be extirpated.

Occurrence: British Columbia

Status history: Designated Endangered in April 1996. Status re-examined and confirmed Endangered in May 2000. May 2000 assessment based on new quantitative criteria applied to existing 1996 status report.

1.16.1 The species

The current taxonomy of prairie lupineis complicated and is not universally accepted. Refer to Douglas and Ryan (1996b) for a description of classification and nomenclature.

Lupinus lepidus var. lepidus is a tufted, perennial herb that grows 20-45 cm tall. Most of the silky leaves grow at the base of the plant with a few alternate leaves along the stem. The leaves are palmately compound, with 5-9 leaflets. The flower is a terminal raceme of pea-like flowers, each 10-13 mm long, ranging in colour from blue, white or purple. The hairy seedpods are 1-3 cm long and contain 2-4 seeds. Distinguishing features include the densely hairy stems and leaves and the woody stem-base (Douglas et al. 1999a; Ryan and Douglas 1996).

1.16.2 Distribution

Ryan and Douglas (1996b)consider the range ofprairie lupine to extend from British Columbia south to Washington and Oregon. The distribution in the United States is difficult to determine because of taxonomic confusion and because it is not tracked as a rare species (SNR) in Washington and Oregon. The species is ranked S1 in Alaska but the identification of the specimen has been questioned (Ryan and Douglas 1996b). The species is relatively common in southern Puget Sound prairies (Thurston and Pierce Counties). Although the prairies themselves are highly fragmented and threatened, within the prairies, prairie lupine is common and is a characteristic species of the Roemer's fescue/white-topped aster (Festuca idahoensis var. roemerii/Sericocarpus rigidus) plant association (Chappell pers. comm. 2004).

In Canada, two prairie lupine populations have recently (BC CDC 2005) been re-confirmed on southeast Vancouver Island at Mt. Braden and Mt. MacDonald. The historical extent of occurrence is difficult to determine because of limited records (BC Conservation Data Centre 2004).

Figure 7. Global and Canadian distribution of prairie lupine
(Global distribution on left; Canadian on right with open triangles showing extirpated populations, grey triangles showing unverified populations and solid triangles showing location of recently extant population)
Figure 7. Global and Canadian distribution of prairie lupine (Global distribution on left; Canadian on right with open triangles showing extirpated populations, grey triangles showing unverified populations and solid triangles showing location of recently extant population)

1.16.3 Population and distribution trend

The COSEWIC status report describes 7 extirpated or sites having poor location information. There is no indication of the past total number of plants in Canada.

Since the status report was written, two populations have been confirmed at Mount Braden (1996) in the Sooke Hills Wilderness Area and at Mount Wells Regional Park (2001) (Table 15). No plants were found in subsequent years at the Mount Braden population (Roemer pers. comm. 2004), until July 0f 2005 when 2 plants were seen. At Mount Wells, 7 plants were first observed in 2001 after a burn (BC Conservation Data Centre 2004). In 2003, the site was heavily vegetated with hairy manzanita [Arctostaphylos columbiana]and the alien Scotch broom [Cytisus scoparius]and only 2 plants (one of which flowered with 2 seeds in the seedpod) were found (Maslovat pers. obs. 2003). The plants were not found in 2004, although seed probably still exists in the seedbbank (Roemer pers. comm. 2004). In addition, in July of 2005, 113 plants were found on Mt. MacDonald where the plants had not been seen since 1913 (BC CDC database).

Table 15. Population information for prairie lupine in Canada
PopulationLand TenureData from Status ReportSubsequent Data
DateObserver# PlantsDateObserver# Plants
Langford PlainsUnknown1908MacounExtirpatedNo further information
Mount MacDonaldCapital Regional District (CRD) Park Reserve, Sooke Hills Wilderness Area1915NewcombeUnknown
Observatory HillNational Research Council Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics1960HardyUnknown2003FairbarnsLikely Extirpated
Koksilah River ValleyUnknown1973BrayshawUnknownNo further information
Cattle PointMunicipality of Oak Bay (designated as an urban park)1991BrayshawUnknownMay have been based on misidentification (Fairbarns and Penny 2003)
Beacon HillMunicipality of Victoria (designated as an urban park)1993RyanExtirpatedNo further information
Somenos LakeUnknown151994DouglasExtirpated
Mount BradenCRD Park Reserve, Sooke Hills Wilderness AreaPopulation unknown when status report written1996Roemer4
Mount WellsCRD Park Reserve, Sooke Hills Wilderness AreaPopulation unknown when status report written2001Roemer7
2003Maslovat2 (one flwr)
Mt. MacDonaldCRD Park Reserve, Sooke Hills Wilderness AreaPopulation last seen in 19132005Roemer113

15 Responsible jurisdiction is either the BC Ministry of Transportation or the Esquimalt & Northern Railroad since the site lies between the Trans Canada Highway and the rail line.

1.16.4 Biotic and abiotic features of habitat

Prairie lupine has been documented from few sites in Canada, so precise habitat descriptions are difficult to determine (Ryan and Douglas 1996b). It tends to occur on very dry, exposed sites with well-drained, nutrient poor, rocky or gravelly soils (Ryan and Douglas 1996b). Prairie lupine populations occurred on level to sloping (20%) ground with elevations ranging from 30-360 metres. At Mount Wells (2001), it was observed in a recent burn area, in flat shallow (< 30 cm) soil. One former site was regularly mowed and another was in a disturbed area between the highway and a railroad (BC Conservation Data Centre 2004).

At Mount Wells, prairie lupine was found in association with resprouting hairy manzanita (Arctostaphylos columbiana), seedlings of red-flowering currant (Ribes sanguineum), gummy gooseberry (Ribes lobbii), oceanspray (Holodiscus discolor), annual grasses and weeds. At Mount Braden, it was observed in patchy Roemer's fescue (Festuca idahoensis ssp. roemeri), Rhacomitrium canescens and lichens. At Somenos, it was found with Rhacomitrium canescens and large-leaved lupine (Lupinus polyphyllus) with the alien Scotch broom (Cytisus scoparius) on the edges of the population (BC Conservation Data Centre 2004).

In Washington, it appears to prefer water stressed sites that have low soil moisture in the summer (Ewing pers. comm. 2004).

1.16.5 Annual cycle

Prairie lupine is a perennial plant that appears to be short-lived. There is no published information about the phenology or demography of this species. Prairie lupine appears to have a long life in the seedbank (Douglas pers. comm. 2004).

1.16.6 Biologically limiting factors

Without periodic soil disturbance or fires, prairie lupine plants appear to decline over time (Ryan and Douglas 1996b). Adult plants may be dying either due to a lack of vigour in adult plants or due to competition (Ryan and Douglas 1996b).

Other Lupinus species are affected by seed predation (Grosboll pers. comm. 2004) and herbivory (Fagan and Bishop 2000; Fagan et al. 2001) but the effect on prairie lupine is not known. During planting trials in Seattle, Washington, prairie lupine seedlings decreased in size with the addition of mulch and fertilizer and were decimated by an unknown disease (Ewing 2002; Ewing pers. comm. 2004).