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

Species Descriptions

1.17 Purple sanicle Sanicula bipinnatifida

Assessment Summary – May 2001

Common name: purple sanicle

Scientific name: Sanicula bipinnatifida

Status: Threatened

Reason for designation: Geographically restricted species with small area of occupancy in Garry oak communities within a major urbanized region at risk from habitat loss and degradation and impact of exotic plants.

Occurrence: British Columbia

Status history: Designated Threatened in May 2001.

1.17.1 The species

Sanicula bipinnatifida Hooker is a well-delineated taxon as described in the status report (Penny and Douglas 2000). Kartesz (1994) does not recognize any infraspecific taxa within this species.

Purple sanicle is an erect (10-60 cm tall), branching, taprooted perennial. The basal and lower stem leaves are pinnately divided with a toothed, winged leaf axis. The inflorescence is several to many compact umbels with purple corollas and an inconspicuous involucel. The seeds are egg-shaped schizocarps covered with hooked prickles. Purple sanicle can be distinguished from other sanicle species by its inconspicuous involucel and deep purple flowers (Douglas et al. 1998a; Penny and Douglas 2001).

1.17.2 Distribution

Purple sanicleranges from southern Vancouver Island, south along the Pacific coast and interior valleys to Baja California (Figure 8). The species is not ranked (SNR) in California, Oregon and Washington (Natureserve 2004). The Georgia Basin-Puget Sound populations appear to be disjunct, by about 100 km, from the main populations, which reach their northern limits along the Columbia River.

Figure 8. Global and Canadian distribution of purple sanicle
(Global distribution on left with uncertain distribution in Baja Claifornia; Canadian distribution on right with stars showing location of disjunct population of uncertain status)
Figure 8. Global and Canadian distribution of purple sanicle (Global distribution on left with uncertain distribution in Baja Claifornia; Canadian distribution on right with stars showing location of disjunct population of uncertain status)

In Canada, purple sanicleis restricted to a small area of southeast Vancouver Island and the southern Gulf Islands. Based on the most recent records the extent of occurrence is estimated at approximately 3,500 km² and the Canadian area of occupancy 2 to 3 ha (BC Conservation Data Centre records 2004; Fairbarns pers. obs. 2004).

1.17.3 Population and Distribution Trend

The COSEWIC status report describes fourteen extant 'populations', five that have become extirpated and seven with status unknown (Table 16) (Penny and Douglas 2000).

Describing populations separated by less than 1,000 m as subpopulations (the default BC Conservation Data Centre criterion for recognizing distinct populations) in addition to subsequent surveys confirm there are there are 20 populations presumed extant, and 5-6 which are presumed extirpated.

Table 16. Population information for purple sanicle in Canada

Land tenureData from Status ReportSubsequent Data
DateObserver# PlantsDateObserver# Plants
Flora IsletProvincial ecological reserve1976Pojarunknownno subsequent data
Brown Ridge, Saturna Islandprivate property1996Janszen140no subsequent data
East Point, Saturna IslandFederal land managed by Canada Coast Guardextirpatedpresumed extirpated
Dionisio Park, Galiano IslandProvincial park1993Roemer1no subsequent data
Little D'Arcy Is.Private property1977A. Ceskaunknownno subsequent data
Alpha IsletProvincial ecological reserve1981A. Ceskaunknown2002A. Ceska11
Discovery Is.Provincial parknot reported2002Fairbarns5
Trial IslandProvincial land leased to a radio-communications corporation.Not reported2004Fairbarnsabout 40
Tzuhalem E.R.Provincial ecological reserve1999Penny94no subsequent data
Tzuhalem I.R.Federal Indian Reserve1999Penny & Douglas75no subsequent data
Sidneyunknown1927Goddardunknownpresumed extirpated
Cedar Hillunknown1897Macounextirp.synonymous with Mount Douglas?
Mount Douglas (synonymous with Blenkinsop Rd. and Cedar Hill?)Municipality of Saanich (designated as an urban park)1953Melburnunknown2004Fairbarns2
Cloverdale Dist.Unknown1919NewcombeextirpatedPresumed extirpated
Ten Mile Pointunknown1942Easthamunknownpresumed extirpated
Blenkinsop Rd.unknown1939unknownunknownsynonymous with Mount Douglas?
Glencoe CoveMunicipality of Saanich (designated as an urban park)1999Penny6no subsequent data
Rithet's BogMunicipality of Saanich (designated as an urban park)1999Penny and Hartwell242004Ansell~ 20
Uplands ParkMunicipality of Oak Bay (designated as an urban park)1983Van Dierenextirp.2004FairbarnsExtirpated sub-population from same population as Cattle Point
Cattle PointMunicipality of Oak Bay (designated as an urban park)1999Penny & Douglas2152004Fairbarns> 300
Holland PointCity of Victoria (designated as an urban park)1999Penny63no subsequent data
Macaulay PointFederal lands owned by Department of National Defence but leased to Municipality of Esquimalt for park use1999Penny & Donovan1014no subsequent data
Golf HillFederal land owned by Department of National Defence1976A. Ceskaextirp.Presumed extirpated
same population as Macaulay Point <1 km away
Near Francis Kingprivate property1999Penny131999 Roemer 12
Thetis LakeCapital Regional District land designated as park2000Ussery & Fleming152no subsequent data
Mill HillCapital Regional District land designated as park1999Penny & Fleming1272003Roemer309
Neild Roadprivate property1999Penny630no subsequent data
Fort Rodd Hill National Historic SiteFederal land managed by Parks Canada Agency1966Ashleeunknown2002Fairbarnsextirpated
Albert HeadFederal land owned by Department on National Defence1999Penny & Donovan1,014no subsequent data

The newly recorded subpopulations add to the total estimated population but there is no accurate estimate of the reproductive population. The COSEWIC status report estimates a total population size of 3,692 plants, which includes both flowering and non-flowering individuals.

1.17.4 Biotic and abiotic features of habitat

The habitat of purple sanicle consists of mesic maritime meadows in addition to upland meadows. The information in the COSEWIC status report has been supplemented with information from recent vegetation sampling (Fairbarns pers. obs. 2004). These meadows are often less than 30 m above sea level although populations are known from elevations of 100-300 m at Mill Hill, Mount Tzuhalem and Brown Ridge as well as the extirpated population presumed to occur at Mount Douglas. Their soils are over 30 cm deep and remain moist throughout the winter months but dry to the permanent wilting point by early summer. The sites have never been ploughed or hayed, but several have been lightly grazed by livestock and most probably burned in the past.

Trees are sometimes present but their abundance and canopy cover is rarely great due to the combined effects of wind exposure, salt spray and/or the droughty nature of the shallow soils. Shrub cover varies considerably among sites, with the introduced species of Scotch broom (Cytisus scoparius), gorse (Ulex europaeus) and tree lupine (Lupinus arboreus) occasionally abundant.

A mix of native and introduced species typically dominates the herb layer. The leading native species are forbs (Puget Sound gumweed [Grindelia integrifolia], barestem desert-parsley [Lomatium nudicaule], bracken fern [Pteridium aquilinum]), although a small component of native graminoids (California brome [Bromus carinatus], California oatgrass [Danthonia californica]) may be present.

Introduced grasses (soft brome [Bromus hordeaceus], orchard grass [Dactylis glomerata], perennial ryegrass [Lolium perenne], barren brome [Vulpia bromoides]), and forbs (hairy cat's ear [Hypochaeris radicata], ribwort plantain [Plantago lanceolata], sheep sorrel [Rumex acetosella], small hop-clover [Trifolium dubium], common vetch [Vicia sativa]) are often present, and any of these may dominate at a given site.

Mosses and lichens are usually sparse in extent.

1.17.5 Annual cycle

Information in the COSEWIC status report has been supplemented by subsequent study of plants at Trial Island and Macaulay Point and observations from other Canadian sites (Fairbarns in. prep. d.).

Established plants resprout in January or February. Plants grow slowly through the late winter and early spring, then grow rapidly in April and early May. Shoots begin to wither and die back as the summer drought begins to take hold in mid-May and most shoots are dead by late June or early July.

Flower buds are usually evident by mid-April and flowering peaks in late April and early May. Green fruit are evident by late May and fruit ripen in June. Fruit are shed slowly and many plants retain up to 20% of their fruit until October. The barbed fruit are dispersed when animals brush against the plants.

1.17.6 Biologically limiting factors

Germination occurs between mid-February and mid-April. Initial seedling mortality may be quite high, with few plants developing true leaves. Only a small proportion of germinants survive the succeeding dormant season.